You Can't Eat GNP: Economics As If Ecology Mattered

You Can't Eat GNP: Economics As If Ecology Mattered

Eric A. Davidson

Language: English

Pages: 247

ISBN: 0738202762

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In this lively, concise, and hard-hitting book, Eric Davidson makes available to readers the exciting new ideas of ecological economists, who have been revolutionizing and greening the once "dismal science." Redefining economic concepts to allow for the primacy of our water, air, soil, and forests, he reveals the necessary steps to a genuine, rather than illusory, prosperity.Most estimates of wealth today are based upon gross domestic product, and many economists even see future wealth being created free of the constraints set by natural resources. Eric Davidson, scientist at the famed Woods Hole Research Center, calls such thinking "Marie Antoinette economics" and reveals its grave underlying fallacies. In valuing land or forests, for instance, we tend to discount their future value for our own children; in analyzing costs and benefits, the price of these natural resources upon which we ultimately depend is usually wrong; and damages to these resources are seen as "externalities." Davidson exposes these fallacies and offers a blueprint for a truly sustainable economy.

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sheets that entries such as the costs of seeds, labor, and fuel for machinery, the income from sales of the harvest, and depreciation of the tractors and farm buildings. Costs may be kept low and short-term profits high by ignoring the need for soil conservation expenditures, such as planting trees that act as windbreaks. The value of the rows of soil lost to wind or water erosion could be thought of as a type of depreciation, similar to depreciation schedules allowed for equipment

generation. 5 # Internalizing the Externalities Buying a Bunch of Blue Sky to Limit Global Warming FIRST HEARD THE EXPRESSION, "buying a buiich of blue sky," from a lawyer who told me about advising a doctor who was considering buying into an existing medI ical practice. After reviewing the details of the contract, the attorney advised his client that the medical practice did not have many assets and sum monThe doc- that paying a significant of money to join a medical practice with

much as frosts are late, spring is of- ten early, and unusual weather patterns are becoming common, including droughts, warm spells, and "freak" storms that bring unusually large amounts of rain or snow. The warmest years in recorded history have been 1995, 1997, 1998, and 1999. Taken together, the preponderance of evidence makes a strong case that global warming is well underway. We cannot predict with certainty how fast the earth will continue to warm, but our best

human spirit. the most delicate, knowing steward- ship of the living world that can be devised. Expansion and stewardship may appear at first to be conflicting goals, but they are not. The depth of the conservation ethic will be mea- sured by the extent to which each of the two approaches to nature is used to reshape and reinforce the other. The paradox can be resolved by changing suited to ultimate survival, human its premises into forms more by which I mean protection of

from his cotton crops to buy another parcel for the next farm. When the Division of Forestry' at the State College took over the land in 1939, the foresters decided to plant loblolly pine at very close spacing, because they feared that only a small percentage of pine trees would sur\dve in this highly degraded soil. Forty-three years graduate student in forestry, my class later, when I was a visited this planted forest of spindly pine trees. Less than one inch of new black

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