From the coauthor of the New York Times bestselling The Second Machine Age, a compelling argument—masterfully researched and brilliantly articulated—that despite increasing prosperity for most of Earth’s inhabitants and an explosion of goods overall, consumption of natural resources such as metals, water, and timber has begun to decline.
Bestselling author and co-director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy Andrew McAfee says there’s a new reason for optimism: we’re past the point of “peak stuff”—from here on out, it’ll take fewer resources to make things, and fewer dollars to lead a comfortable life.
What has made this turnabout possible? One thing, primarily: the collaboration between technology and capitalism. In More From Less, McAfee explains how capitalism’s quest for higher profits is a quest for lower costs; materials and resources are expensive, and technological progress allows companies to use fewer of them even as they grow their markets. Modern smartphones take the place of cameras, GPS units, landline telephones, answering machines, tape recorders, and alarm clocks. Precision agriculture lets farmers harvest larger crops while using less water and fertilizer. Passenger cars get lighter, which makes them cheaper to produce and more fuel efficient. This means that, even though there’ll be more people in the future, and they’ll be wealthier and consume more, they’ll do so while using fewer natural resources.
However, the future is not all bright, cautions McAfee. He warns of issues that haven’t been solved, like overfishing and global warming. But overall, More From Less is a revelatory, paradigm-shifting account of how we’ve stumbled into an unexpected balance with nature, and the possibility that our most abundant centuries are ahead of us.
Andrew McAfee is a principal research scientist at MIT, studying how digital technologies are changing business, the economy, and society. He has discussed his work at such venues as TED, the Aspen Ideas Festival, and the World Economic Forum. His prior books include the New York Times bestseller The SecondMachine Age, which was shortlisted for the Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year, and Machine, Platform, Crowd. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“Everyone knows we’re doomed by runaway overpopulation, pollution, or resource depletion, whichever comes first. Not only is this view paralyzing and fatalistic, but, as Andrew McAfee shows in this exhilarating book, it’s wrong. One of the great underappreciated developments of recent decades is that technology, prosperity, good governance, and environmental consciousness are allowing people to have more of the good things in life with less despoliation of the planet. More from Less is fascinating, enjoyable to read, and tremendously empowering.” —Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress
“I've always believed that technological progress and entrepreneurship make our lives better. Here, Andrew McAfee shows how these powerful forces are helping us make our planet better too, instead of degrading it. For anyone who wants to help create a future that is both sustainable and abundant, this book is essential reading.” —Reid Hoffman, cofounder of Linkedin and coauthor of Blitzscaling
"This book is the best kind of surprise. It tells us something about our relationship with our planet that is both unexpected and hopeful. The evidence Andy presents is convincing: we have at last learned how to tread more lightly on the Earth. More from Less shows how we accomplished this, and tells us how to keep it going." —Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google
“In More from Less, Andrew McAfee tells the riveting story of how humanity is turning the corner with respect to what had been massive, steady increases in consumption of raw materials. By subverting our common perceptions of capitalism and technology as enemies of progress and environmental preservation, McAfee offers all of us a clear-eyed source of optimism and hope. Critically, he also makes the case for what comes next—offering up vital lessons that have the potential to make the world both more prosperous and more just.” —Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation
“Andrew McAfee’s new book addresses an urgent need in our world today: defining a framework for addressing big global challenges. His proposals are based on a thorough analysis of the state of the world, combined with a refreshing can-do attitude.” —Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum