Treasures of the Earth
Political Science
Social Science

Treasures of the Earth

Need, Greed, and a Sustainable Future

  • Saleem H. Ali


"This book provides a welcome linkage between environmental behavior and poverty alleviation. Ali's call for harnessing the earth's resources efficiently and equitably deserves to be heeded by all sectors of society and used as a means of spurring innovations towards sustainable development."—Muhammad Yunus; Founder, Grameen Bank; Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, 2006

"This book deals with equity and ethical dimensions of production and consumption across the planet—issues that are likely to become a growing source of tension between different countries. Hence, knowledge about how treasures of the earth should be utilized equitably would help in framing appropriate policies for the future."—R. K. Pachauri, Director General, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), and Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Along with former Vice President Al Gore, the IPCC under Dr. Pachauri's Chairmanship was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the year 2007

"The history of human relationships with Earth's resources is an important story and Ali tells it from an extraordinarily wide perspective. The interaction of our fascination with these materials and the implications of consumption behavior for the environment deserves the attention that Ali gives it in this quest to understand the psychology of treasure-seeking."-Thomas Graedel, Yale University

“This compelling narrative about the social, economic, and environmental effects of the quest for mineral wealth shows the human impulse of ‘acquisitiveness.’ Ali distinguishes between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ to develop the links between consumption, environmental degradation, and human well-being.”—John Gowdy, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

"[A] pioneering exploration of human wants and needs and the natural resources we consume."—Bookseller

A Recommended Book in the January 2010 issue of Scientific American.

“Saleem H. Ali is pro-consumption and pro-environment.”--Forbes Magazine


“In a book that ranges from geology to psychology, with a history of metallurgy along the way, [Ali] argues that sometimes a nation has to extract a nonrenewable resource like oil, or tricky-to-recycle metals and gems, in order to leapfrog from dire poverty to a more diversified economy.”--Elisabeth Eaves, Forbes Magazine

“An excellent read for anyone who wants to have in hand a summary of what is going on today in the ecology of extractive industries. . . . The author has scoured the world for stories. . . and his efforts have been generously rewarded.”--Joel Gibbons, Journal of Markets and Morality


Saleem Ali has been selected as the National Geographic Emerging Explorer for 2010.

"[This book] acknowledges that our obsession for all that bling yields environmental destruction and social inequity but also fuels creativity, the desire for discovery, and needed economic development. Properly channeled, the treasure impulse might actually propel us toward a fairer and better world."--Naazish YarKhan, Quick Picks and Must Reads, Huffington Post

"Saleem Ali's book provides an original, entertaining and ultimately optimistic account of society's complex relationship to non-renewable resources."—Cambridge University Press