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UW Professor’s Latest Book Drawing Rave Reviews


December 3, 2010 — Ed Barbier's sequel to "Natural Resources and Economic Development" already has something in common with its predecessor.

The scholars who have read it can't stop raving.

The University of Wyoming professor's 19th book, "Scarcity and Frontiers," a follow-up to his 2005 book that piqued his interest about how natural resources are used in the current era of global economic development as compared to past eras, is already being described as a "masterly and timely book" that "economic historians will learn from and admire ... for decades to come."

"Scarcity and Frontiers," published by Cambridge University Press, will be available for sale in the United Kingdom beginning Dec. 9. The book will be published in the United States early next year.

"I am delighted with the many positive pre-publication reviews of the book in two respects," says Barbier, UW's John S. Bugas Professor of Economics. "First, the scholars who have reviewed the book are highly distinguished and knowledgeable about history and natural resource problems. Second, they come from different academic backgrounds: economics, economic history and history.

"This suggests to me that the book has wide appeal to these different disciplines, and that the book has the potential to fill an important gap in our current knowledge of how natural resources have been a driving force behind global economic development throughout human history."

"Scarcity and Frontiers" explores the contribution that natural resource exploitation has made to economic development in key areas of world history.

Throughout much of history, the response of society to the scarcity of natural resources -- including land, forests, fish, fossil fuels and minerals -- has been critical to global economic development. While increasing rates of scarcity have raised the cost of exploiting existing natural resources, the world has responded by obtaining and developing more abundant sources, or new "frontiers."

"Today, we are on the verge of a new era, the ‘Age of Ecological Scarcity,'" says Barbier. "For the first time in history, fossil fuel energy and raw material use, environmental degradation and pollution may be occurring on such an unprecedented scale that the resulting consequences in terms of global warming, ecological scarcity and energy insecurity are generating worldwide impacts.

"If humankind is to succeed in overcoming these global problems, we need to find the next ‘new frontiers' of natural resources and adapt economic development accordingly."

Barbier's book, according to some scholars, may provide a road map.

"Wide-ranging in time (from 10,000 BC to present day) and space (with case studies drawn from many parts of the world), this is a major and path-breaking analysis of the role of natural resources and the expansion of populations into new frontiers in shaping the evolution of economic and social change," writes Stanley L. Engerman of the University of Rochester in New York. "Based upon extremely wide reading and detailed knowledge of the issues, this book adds to our understanding of past events while providing suggestions for handling today's resource and climate problems."

In his review, Sir Partha Dasgupta of the University of Cambridge writes that Barbier's "interpretation of the economic history of nations, seen through the lens of natural resource exploitation is not only bold but brilliantly executed."

To learn more about "Scarcity and Frontiers," go http://cup.msgfocus.com/q/1MxboziLNigpHT/wv.

Barbier's earlier book, "Natural Resources and Economic Development," also from Cambridge University Press, provided "the definitive treatment of the frontier land expansion approach to economic development," according to the Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research."

Barbier has more than 25 years of experience as an environmental and resource economist, working mainly on the economics of environment and development issues. He also has served as a consultant for a variety of national, international and non governmental agencies, including various United Nations organizations and the World Bank.

Barbier received his B.S. (1979) degree at Yale University, his M.S. (1980) degree at The London School of Economics and Political Science and earned his Ph.D. (1986) at Birkbeck College, at the University of London. He has been at UW since 2000.

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