Mayor Bloomberg's Green Push

[Update: You can now read a transcript of Mayor Bloomberg's weekly radio address which was devoted to the new sustainability initiatives. Also check out economist Charles Komanoff's ideas on incentives to make NYC more sustainable.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg is currently in the middle of a strong effort to make environmental sustainability one of the top priorities of his last 3 years in office, capped off nicely with his recent announcements to create a new Office of Sustainability and Long Term Planning and build 200 miles of new bike lanes.

Just this Summer, he successfully passed a controversial 20 year solid waste management plan with an independent recycling office and he called for greater energy conservation and increased efficiency of current power plants around the periods of peak energy demand instead of calling for new power plants to be constructed.

If New York City, which already is one of the most energy efficient cities in the country (multi-unit attached housing, high rates of walking/mass transit), is seeking to become even greener and more environmentally friendly, the total impact of this effort may only partially be what happens on the ground here in NYC. Given NYC's immense economic importance on the surrounding region, policies in NYC could emanate out and influence the development of whole new markets for environmentally sustainable products and services, all under the watchful eye of the major national and international media news services.

Streetsblog has a good overview of the two people (Dr. Rachel Weinberger and Rohit Thomas Aggarwala) that will lead the new Office of Sustainability, which will be overseen by Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff. All seem very commited to urban environmentalism and energy efficiency. Working together with this office and their advisory board is the Columbia University Earth Institute.

The Earth Institute, currently led by Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, a hero for many in the sustainable development movement, will conduct a full scale audit of NYC's carbon emissions from all sources. To give some insight into their philosophy on energy production, you can read a short summary of Dr. Klaus Lackner's Cafe Science lecture on the future of energy and this recent article by Dr. Sachs criticizing the Bush administration's lack of imagination of energy & foreign policy. Here's an exerpt on his views of different forms of energy production (which greatly parallel that of Dr. Lackner:

energy strategy must satisfy three objectives: low cost, diverse supply, and drastically reduced carbon dioxide emissions. This will require massive investments in new technologies and resources, not a "fight to the finish" over Middle East oil. Important energy technologies will include conversion of coal to liquids (such as gasoline), use of tar sands and oil shale, and growth in non-fossil-fuel energy sources.

Indeed, there is excellent potential for low-cost solar power, zero-emitting coal-based technologies, and safe and reliable nuclear power. Solar radiation equals roughly 10,000 times our current energy use. We tap that solar power in many fundamental ways - food production, wind power, hydroelectric power, solar heating, solar-thermal electricity, solar panels - but the possibilities for greatly increased use of inexpensive, widely available, and environmentally friendly solar power are huge.

Coal, like solar energy, is widely available. It is already inexpensive, but it is a solid rather than a liquid, a major pollutant, and a source of greenhouse gas emissions. Yet all of these problems can be solved, especially if we make the needed investments in research and development. Gasification of coal allows for the removal of dangerous pollutants, and coal can already be converted to gasoline at low cost; a South African company is beginning to bring that technology to China on a large scale.

Nuclear power, both fission-based and fusion-based, is yet another possibility for vast, reliable, secure, and environmentally safe primary energy. Here, too, there are technological obstacles, but they seem surmountable. Of course, there are also major political, regulatory, and security considerations, all of which need to be addressed properly.

These potential sources need a lot more examination to best fit NYC's unique situation, but it does hold out the promise of a rational discussion of our energy future in terms of electricity, heating and transportation.

What I like about this is that the Bloomberg Administration is taking this very seriously and approaching it from a pragmatic, science-based perspective, instead of the usual "greenwashing" of environmental issues. At least that's the hope at this point.

This effort is quite ambitious considering that Bloomberg only has 3 more years in office before he is term limited. However, much can and should be done by the administration within this time period to reduce NYC's dependence on foreign oil and it's greenhouse gas emissions. Future administrations may have no choice but to continue and expand these policies if proven effective.

This effort may be the final step before the mayor tackles the politically sensitive issue in the outerboroughs of congestion pricing as part of a grand efficient transportation vision for the entire NYC region. But so far, the mayor has repeatedly refused to take a hard position on the issue or even start laying the groundwork politically in the outerboroughs.

Stay tuned for more in a few months when the Earth Institute is due to complete their report for Mayor Bloomberg's annual state of the state address in January where he is widely expected to announce his major policy initiatives for next year.

My guess is congestion pricing is such a political minefield that you need a serious traffic crisis before there is the will to do something about it.

An analogy to global warming: I don't think the mass public took it seriously until Katrina (in the US).  Katrina allowed the general public to make the link between global warming and the possible consequences for individuals-- to (tele)visualise the problem.

London we had the combination of a radical (former Trotskyite), autocratic mayor, and West End traffic that was almost at a dead halt (conspiracy theorists in the leading newspapers claim that was designed by the Mayor's office to make Congestion Charging look better).

There is a part of me that thinks Mike Bloomberg will make the best President the US will never have: he does enough to seriously irritate both parties.

you need a serious traffic crisis

I would call the actual state a serious traffic crisis.

Average motorist speeds in cities hardly faster than a bicycle, gridlock whereever you look, commuter cars occupied by average 1.1 persons, almost half of driving time spent in search of parking space. And higher municipal deficits for sustaining individual motor traffic than those for mass transit.

This is Absurdistan.

I've not seen NYC when it's really bad-- midtown at noon?  Lincoln Tunnel on a Friday afternoon?

Our traffic was slower than it was when it was horse-drawn, in 1911.  About 9mph I think on average in the core of London.

I would say though that in the land of automobile and personal freedom, it has to get really bad (I sound like the Twilight Zone movie 'want to see something really scary? ;-) before something is done about it.

A big road repair programme might create the crisis eg shutting down the East or West Side Highways?

Katrina allowed the general public to make the link between global warming and the possible consequences for individuals-- to (tele)visualise the problem

Yeap, and for the same reason after we got one year without hurricanes, for the American public GW no longer exists.

Indeed.  The thinking from the lab is that humans over-focus on 'recency'-- see Amos Tversky, Daniel Kahneman and Kahneman's Nobel Prize, also humans focus on what is 'representative' and then over-generalise.  Which makes taking on a long term problem very, very difficult.

if you follow the link and go to the middle of the page on that link, there is a fascinating discussion

of why European and American views of GW are so different.
The bottom line, our media just doesn't treat the climate change sceptics with the same level of respect.

(,,1875762,00.html might be a reason why ;-)

  Here in the UK, we have just had the right wing political party spend 2 days at its conference discussing green taxes.  Now in practice they voted not to have them and I am sceptical anything that really affected our freedom to go on weekend flights to Europe, etc., is really on the table.

But still, it is unimaginable that 'Republicans against Global Warming' would emerge and be a vibrant voice in the party.

(except your mayor Bloomberg.  Since Republicans arguably invented the environmental movement in the USA (Theodore Roosevelt), there might be a buried momentum there).

during katrina and rita the msm was assuring us that increased hurricane frequency and severity was not a product of global warming  or at least they were assuring us that the data was inconclusive  although i am sure many were wondering  -  this summer was the 1st time i heard about any connection and yes my source was msm again

(note the pre Katrina date on this latter).

My overall conclusion:

  • frequency - no way of telling.  A more unstable climatic world is likely to have more extreme climatic events

  • intensity - intensity is directly correlated with surface temperature of the ocean, and that seems to be rising, albeit erratically

A third point:

- one of the articles I referenced above points out the biggest danger to NYC is what I think they call 'North Atlantic Storms' rather than hurricanes.  These have lower peak wind speeds, but last longer and dump more water.

i'm not doubting that this was discussed in the scientific community prior to the disasterous 2005 season   it's just that the msm was telling us just the opposite
this is a joke. this is a mockery. this is self-serving puffery.

there is nothing sustainable about NYC. Everything is shipped in now by train, truck, car, or barge. There is little industry, no agriculture. Once the city was ringed by the most productive farms in the world. Now that has been paved over by suburbia. Food is shipped from around the world and there is no chance of reversing this in any meaningful way.

There is absolutely no recycling. Discharges of all kind (industrial and metabolic) are carted away for processing or disposal.

The only thing worse is modern suburbia.

I strongly disagree. The dense urban form, even with all of the inputs and outputs you mention, is by far the most efficient form of modern living from a resource, transportation, energy, water, land and carbon output perspective. You can argue that we should all go back to in time to when most of the population lived on farms, but that's not really on the table unless you have a dictator like Pol Pot forcing people back out into the fields.

Please tell us what your alternative is.

Oh, but it's not a suggestion that we should go back and live on the farm, it will be the reality of the situation at some point in the post-peak world.  NYC is only sustainable in an energy-soaked world.  The very concept that any major urban environment is ultimately sustainable at anything approaching the levels we see today without the massive energy inputs we currently enjoy - well, good luck with that is all I can say.
If there is no food in the grocery stores, nobody will have to be forced out of the city into the country, they'll be headed that way quite on their own.  Where I'm sure they'll be greeted warmly by their country cousins.  Or not...

and there probably is no alternative.

If there is no food in the grocery stores, nobody will have to be forced out of the city into the country, they'll be headed that way quite on their own.  Where I'm sure they'll be greeted warmly by their country cousins.

You are quite right about the first part about what they will do without food on the shelves, but I'm not sure about the warm greetings... :)

I'm not a doomer though. I don't think it will be so dramatic as you see it. I see things happening a lot slower and more insidiously - slowly sapping our national economy and leading to a fall in the average standard of living. This is something very preventable with the right policies pursued at all levels of government and in the business sector.

By framing this issue in a such divisive manner (the proverbial "pol pot" debate stopper is not a valid argument rather a call to negative emotion) you close off discussion of possible solutions.

Yes the dense urban form is more efficient than the maniacally wasteful suburban paradigm. However these are not the only "modern living" alternatives, in spite of their familiarity (especially for one with a NYC parochrial bias) Small towns on waterways, larges town on larges lakes, small cities on seacoasts,  large cities on large rivers, are all more sustainable variations if they are ringed with closed-loop local agriculture and industrial systems.

Given our lack of imagination and political will, and our corrupt financial system I don't see necessary changes occuring in time for PO decline. It would take monumental government resources and probably some type of central planning to reverse our titanic now.

There is nothing extraordinary the major or NYC residents can do to change consumption patterns that folks in anywhere in the country can not. Every American should seal up and insulate their windows, change their  lightbulbs, walk to the farmers market (if you can afford it) etc. etc.

The City already has an envious mass transit system because  it did it's job 100 years ago. We don't need Bloomberg to remind us of this. We need Bush to do so, and then the American people and the US government to make electrification of transport a priority.

I'm sorry, you started with:

this is a joke. this is a mockery. this is self-serving puffery.

so, who started the divisive comments?

I was applauding a step in the right direction - you just made fun of it without offering up your own vision.

Now, small towns near lakes, rivers and on seacoasts could be great if they can wean themselves of automobiles and truly relocalize (which seems a little far off right now). A detached house, a personal automobile in the driveway big  box stores and single use zoning is more indicative of small town America than multi-unit housing, walkable mixed use downtown areas.

But right now we have a model that is already more efficient and still has a lot that it can do to become more efficient: Highly dense urban centers.

And considering we have 300 million people, we are going to need large cities - indeed, I think we will see greater density and urbanization in the future instead of sprawl or small self-sufficient regional communities.

Peak Guy I'm sorry how I responded intially, but I have this gut reaction to insincere greenwashing.

It feels as if it were an election year campaign to drag greens over to the establishment. NYC is 1 million educated well-intentioned inner-core achievers surrounded by 7 million struggling lower-middle class citizens who can at best invest in a few fluorescent or halogen light bulbs. NYC is also the other 20 million suburbanites who take culture from the core and return a little in business and sales taxes. How will Bloomberg's proposal make a differene to those 27 million?


That's ok. I'm highly aware of the "greenwashing" that goes on and that's why I wanted to highlight Bloomberg because at long last, he really seems to have actually implemented a good deal of environmentally friendly legislation and administrative goals and has some big plans in the works for his last three years in office.

How do 1 million people in the middle of the city make a difference to the 27 million others?

All the million in the center need to do is exercise their consumer might (collectively through the city's regulatory policies) and create new markets that spur competition over sustainable goods and services. And reclaim their highways, streets and neighborhoods from traffic coming from the other 27 million.

You want our consumer dollars? Earn it by following our regulations on good environmental practices. If you don't want to follow our regulations, then go find work somewhere else. 10 others are waiting in your place.

You want access to our high paying jobs, our cultural institutions, our unique shops? Then please don't drive here - but if you do, be prepared to pay through the nose for congestion pricing or you will squander hours in traffic.

You want a good paying blue collar jobs with union benefits? Join the transit workers, become a park ranger, help construct new green buildings,

Are you on a limited budget in the city? Stop wasting energy, sell the car, support denser mixed use neighborhood zoning.

I am reminded that there were large cities before oil was discovered.

Large in the low millions though (without checking, largest city in the world in 1890-- London?  perhaps 4 million people).  And with very messy coal, hence the nickname 'the Smoke'.

The sort of Mexico Cities of the world now seem unimaginable without cheap transport.  But you could argue they use relatively little oil.

It's actually the suburbs of New York which must be the really energy intensive bit-- spread out from hither to yon in large houses.  New York's population isn't, I don't imagine, higher than it was in 1930-- it's just its geographic area is several times as large (counting the commuter belt).

Perhaps a greater threat is a more prosaic one.  I saw a projection of the scale of storms NYC might face by mid century (I'm not talking Al Gore's global melting slides, just extrapolations from rising surface temperatures).

The gist of the article was that lower Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn would likely face very major floodings on a regular basis.  And a flood of lower Manhattan, for example, could do $50bn of damage.

The article was about whether to build storm barriers, like our Thames tidal barriers, across the East River and the Hudson. (the Thames Barrier closes when the water surges-- )

  The problem being that this would be expensive ($20bn or so I think was the number) and it would be an admission that some parts of the City could just not be protected.  Which makes it politically almost infeasible.

Please tell us what your alternative is

The Lower Garden District of New Orleans.  Mid-rise construction (2 to 4 with occasional 1 story construction), narrow one-way streets with parking on both sides (St. Andrew is 28' wide, some are 24' wide).

My side of the street has (corner) 4 apartments, 6 apartments, 8 apartments, (corner) 4 apartments.  SFRs around the corner.  

Other side of street (before entire block burned down in Katrina) was (corner) 11 apartments, 7 apartments, SFR, 8 apartments.  My block is a bit higher density than most of the Lower Garden.  Perhaps 1/3rd are SFR or duplexes.

Narrow streets save space for people, allow higher density and shorten walking distances.

I am 2.5 blocks from the St. Charles streetcar.  I can buy food in 5 places within 6 blocks (including Walmart), my tailor is within 4 blocks, as was my insurance agent.  Banks within 3 blocks, also dry cleaners.  More people walking by late at night than Manhatten, I know my neighbors.

Greenery abounds, we have a very nice Coliseum Square Park within 4 blocks.  Public tennis & basketball courts (once the FEMA trailers move) 5 blocks away.

Two world class restaurants within walking distance and dozens on the streetcar line.  Many just very good places to eat as well :-)  And bars abound !!

5 miles of unique shops on Magazine Street, just 2 blocks away.

The tallest building in town (One Shell Square, 51 stories) is in between the streetcar tracks and 1 mile away.  The French Quarter is 1.25 miles away as is the Superdome.

More here:

I would argue that our model is a more livable and enjoyable than NYC and from a

most efficient form of modern living from a resource, transportation, energy, water, land and carbon output perspective

perspective we are better as well.

No elevators for example :-)

Best Hopes & Respectfully,


I agree Manhattan is not for everyone (I like it for my needs now, but later with a family I may move to the outerboroughs or NJ, I don't know), but don't forget the outerboroughs. Manhattan is really a convenient central location for 25 million people in the region to work, play and shop that is slowly filling in more residents over the current 1.5 million, most of which are in the northern half.

Please bear in mind that most of NYC's population is in Brooklyn (3m) and Queens (2m) (not Manhattan) which sounds closer to your description of 3-6 story density and neighborhood shops. It would be great to get more trolleys at streetlevel in Brooklyn and Queens.

It would be interesting to do a direct comparison of the land use/energy/water/carbon output per person. It's good that there is so much available within walking distance, but how many drive their car for commuting, grocery shopping, etc. Brooklyn and Queens are still very energy efficient by any standard, but they do have much higher rates of car ownership.

In one of the many Urban Planning meetings post-Katrina the "out-of-town experts" quoted an interesting statistic.

New Orleans and New York were in a statistical tie for fewest miles driven by residents/capita (excluding suburbanites driving inside both of our cities).  

We have/had post-WW II suburbs in New Orleans East, Lakeview and south Algiers, with quite high rates of driving.  I use 6 gallons/month in Lower Garden.  Lower Garden District may have had the lowest rate of driving for the reasons noted.  That is, we are the "Manhatten" of car use.  The Warehouse District, French Quarter (Lindsey Boggs* lives on Bourbon Street, quite a lady at 90 !), Marigny, Treme and Garden District also have quite low rates of car use.  Perhaps 10% to 15% of the population lived in those areas.

And half the population (guess) lived in higher but still moderate levels of auto use; Uptown, Central City, Mid-City, Gentilly, Broadmoor, Algiers.

My point is that 1-3 (rare 4) story levels of construction with large amounts of trees & green & parks (Garden District) is a quite acceptable alternative for low energy et al use IF done properly, as it was in 1830's New Orleans.  Narrow streets are one of several keys IMHO.

Someone asked for an alternative.  I gave one, a better one IMO :-)

Best Hopes,


You certainly added nicely to the discussion - narrow streets hmm...
Pstarr, I strongly disagree as well.

Once the city was ringed by the most productive farms in the world.
200 years ago, Fairfield County, Connecticut, was onion farms. You grow onions in marginally useful farmlands that can't grow much else.

Food is shipped from around the world and there is no chance of reversing this in any meaningful way.
A little human ingenuity goes a long way when it comes to keep from starving. I think depaving a lot of unnecessary suburban roads might be easier than you think when all of a sudden people realize it's more valuable for agriculture.

There is absolutely no recycling.
That's true except for all the recycling -- from the folks who make their livings off of harvesting the 5-cent redemption to businesses like New York Wa$te Match, which pairs, say, people who need large volumes of corrugated boxes with those businesses that end up with a lot as an output. That's the kind of businesses that is easier to run in a dense built environment like New York, where industrial operations are clustered together.

Discharges of all kind (industrial and metabolic) are carted away for processing or disposal.
Fewer discharges (example: auto exhaust) than would be given off by the same 8 million people if they were widely dispersed.

Friend, don't get hung up on the importation of food. That consumes a tiny amount of fuel compared to all the unnecessary motoring that happens every day, and it could be reduced further by increasing use of rail and waterways.

are there any walmarts in nyc ?
there is a big fight about building one in Queens, I think.  I don't know if it was resolved.

I think the sticking point is that it will be (of course) non unionised.  The unionised supermarkets in California used the arrival of WalMart to cut pay and benefits in half.

Look at the good side, they are really pushing Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (probably the single best thing Americans could do, today, to fight GW and PO) and they have really cut the prices ;-).

There has been high organized resistance by unions, small businesses and elected officials. Walmart recently announced   they would not build a store on Staten Island, the most suburban part of NYC. I think eventually they will get one, but it will be a very different type of Walmart. Sometimes I wonder if it would even be good to have a Walmart here so that we can teach them what we care about and change the company. But mostly I hope NYC keeps big box stores away as much as possible...              
Home Depot has built outlets in Manhattan?  I would say that a striking thing about Manhattan in the last 10 or so years is how much it has gotten like an 'outdoor shopping mall' version of the rest of the country.  I am thinking that block (on Broadway?) that is entirely GAP and Gap-Chain stores.  A big fraction of the idiosynchratic retailers seem to be gone.

'Big Box' is a big component (McKinsey study - 40%) of the productivity miracle of the late 90s in the US (productivity snapped back from its post 1970 oil shock slump, and went from growing at c. 1% a year up to 3% a year, as high as it has been since the 1950s, and 1.5% higher than Europe).

Swings and roundabouts, as we say over here ;-).  Productivity miracle, yes, but also an energy intensive and land extensive form of development. It won't look so clever if oil prices are dramatically higher.

not so sure i buy that productivity miracle  propaganda      if productivity was really increasing shouldn't our standard of living be increasing ?  and not just for the ceo's ?
This is a glass half full/ half empty story.  First the glass half full.

1. standard of living might be increasing.

Welcome to the 'hedonic price adjustment argument'.  How do you value a 3MHZ computer 2Gig RAM with a 19" flat screen and 250MB hard drive (X2 with RAID1 backup) against the PC you could buy in 1970?  (IBM had an APL-based machine, the 5051? that cost about $20k in the early 70s).

Or how do you value healthcare now (more than 50% chance of surviving adult leukemia for 5 years or more) vs. healthcare then (no chance)?

US houses are 60% larger on average than they were in 1972.  That sounds like an increase in living standards.

(a bit techy)

2. it is absolutely the case since 1980 that almost all the gains in real income have fallen to the top 10% of Americans, and in fact the top 1% (and the top 1/10th within that 1%-- the best tracking study of this Congress tried to shut down (did they succeed?) because it was just too embarrassing.  No one wants to be told that the Americans benefiting from economic growth all earn over $330k pa per person).  

On the return of the productivity miracle.  What has happened is there has been tremendous growth in efficiency in a small number of sectors (computer manufacture, retail distribution, online consumer finance), which has translated into growth in those sectors, at much lower prices.

So far, it hasn't translated into growth in real wages for the median wage earner (median wage still below 1999 level last time I checked).

that may be   however where is the hedonic reverse adjustment for cheap made in china junk americans are consuming    nothing (well almost nothing) can be repaired   just throw it away and go get a new plastic one at walmart which costs the same as the old made in america ones did
puffery  i like that term   i had to look it up      brownie    yer doin a heckava job       rummy yer doin a heckava job      scooter    yer doin a heckava job      roflmao   there used to be a guy at work we called puffy      his skin was all puffy     from taking steroids i suppose
Lack of leadership on a national level has forced states to take the lead on energy issues. They are making progress. I fear they may not be moving fast enough to avert a crisis, but at least they are trying. Every BTU of coal or natural gas that we save with renewables is a step in the right direction. Every state agency that initiates efficient transportation in their own motorpools is one more thing that will still be viable into the next decades. Do not mock the states for trying to do better, they are our last and best hope.
Yes, this is exactly what is happening. Revolution from the bottom up. Hopefully the Feds will eventually get their act together, but we can't wait for that to build successes locally.
Hello Peakguy,

That brings up an interesting point on the Feds.  Peakoil and Global Warming has been in the MSM long enough now that any Congressional Representative, Senator, or Cabinet level Executive staff member saying that they are not aware of this would look like a utter fool.  So why no concerted national energy policy that all Americans could rally around?  The pledge to promote the general welfare....?

Speculation: My guess is that infinite growth and MPP will continue for as long as possible, until it declines and/or crashes, therefore all 'realistic' future Federal planning is being done to handle the aftermath.  Ever since the '70s oil shock, I feel confident that huge numbers of simulations have been run on computers, but I have no proof.  The concentration of wealth and power at the Medusa's head of the mil/fed/corp/elite level is not something that they will relinquish easily.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Of course, all that green in the top image has nothing to do with environmentalism and everything to do with St. Patrick's Day. But a good image for this post nonetheless.
  Thanks for posting this.  Charles Komanoff, mentioned (with link) in your lead-in, will be one of the speakers on the Climate Change session of ASPO-USA conference in Boston.  Komanoff has made waves by advocating a universal "carbon tax" to replace most conventional forms of taxation.

The Climate Change forum follows the opening reception on the evening of October 25, at Boston University's School of Management.

Dick Lawrence
ASPO-USA Boston Conference Coordinator

Komanoff did some great work on nuclear energy in the 70s.


  • if 'green taxes' produce a lot of revenue, then they are ineffective in dissuading CO2 release (price inelastic).  This is the UK experience of very high gasoline taxes.  We still drive a lot, and the political limit of raising gasoline taxes (petrol here costs 90p/litre which is about $6 per US gal I think) has been reached.

  • if green taxes cause a big reduction in CO2 output (which is the goal) they don't produce a lot of revenue.

My take is we are going to need green taxes, environmental efficiency regulation and tradable carbon permits.

The problem is complex enough for one country.  For the world to do it in unison seems almost impossible. It does make me despair.

The Earth Institute, currently led by Dr. Jeffrey Sachs (pictured above), a hero for many in the sustainable development movement...

Sorry about the offtopic, but is the above statement true? In Russia and many parts of Eastern Europe, where Jeffrey Sachs spent several years between 1991 and 1994, he is widely hated for impementing the IMF-recommended policies of price liberalization and privatization [theft] of state property for pennies on the dollar. The result was mass impoverishment of the population, collapse of the public health infrastructure and millions of premature deaths. I find it pretty ironic that Columbia U. found him to be qualified for a Professor of Public Health Policy given the guy's track record.

And don't ever mention Sachs' name in Bolivia! He fucked things up there beyond belief. The famous uprising in the town of Cochabamba was triggered by privatization of the local water utility by Bechtel Corporation. Privatization of municipal utilities was one of the policies promoted by Sachs during his 1986-1990 stint in Bolivia, along with the infamous 'shock therapy'. </offtopic>

Many people speak of him as a hero and I personally think he's done some great work in the real world, not just sitting up in an academic ivory tower

I don't disagree that his work in Eastern Europe/Russia is controversial. Frankly, I'm not sure what would have worked given the collapse of civil society and governmental institutions. His remedies at least started the process of transformation toward more open economies.

What I'm focusing on is what he's been doing for the last 10 years with the Earth Institute, the UN Millennium project, his work on HIV, poverty relief and third world debt cancellation instead of his time with the IMF or World Bank.

His book "The End of Poverty" was a real passionate work about how we can make a real difference in Africa to relieve poverty.

For more on differences of opinion on Jeffrey Sachs you can check out what people have written about at Wikipedia

Controversal??? Boy you don't know what are you talking about...
I'm not sure what would have worked given the collapse of civil society and governmental institutions. His remedies at least started the process of transformation toward more open economies.

Having survived the collapse of the Soviet Union despite Mr. Sachs' policies there, I beg to disagree! The collapse of the governmental insitutions there was a direct result of the policies he advocated for. I remember him speaking on the Russian TV saying, "we need to sell off government property as soon as possible to get the market system going, and then the free market will sort it out." WTF?! Sound like yet another worshiper of the Free Market God to me.

Yes, free market did sort things out eventually - at a cost of millions of human lives ruined. I am just glad that the Russian government did not implement all of his policies. At one point Sachs suggested the government should shut off utilities to the people who do not have the money to pay for them... this is in the middle of the Russian winter when it's -20C outside! I can imagine how well that would go - thousands of people freezing to death in the name of free market. Truly, neoliberal economics is a form of brain damage.

What I'm focusing on is what he's been doing for the last 10 years with the Earth Institute, the UN Millennium project, his work on HIV, poverty relief and third world debt cancellation instead of his time with the IMF or World Bank.

Sounds like he is trying to redeem himself and work off the bad karma... Good luck to him.