Economics of the Finite Earth: A critique of the theory of environmental economics, its relation to economic growth and social stability, and its practical application to global warming
The talk will be based on his book that can be read HERE.
The very first line of the whole book inspired this post. Here is that line and the first few paragraphs as a taster.
Environmental economics is in a mess.
Economics more generally has, since the classics, been based on the assumption that a substance or resource that commands no price, is either of little relevance, or else is available in to all practical purposes, unlimited amounts. This has never been genuinely the case. The development of Western industrial and commercial affluence has invariably impacted on the established life stiles of others, from the Highland clearances to the colonisation of ‘empty’ countries in ‘terra nullius’. Now it is the planet itself, the integrity of the atmosphere and the oceans, the very basics of life that is under threat. Both water, surely the most basic and fundamental necessity, and the clean air we need to live a healthy life, remain locked in a convention that regards them as a limitless ‘free goods’, for everyone to take and deplete to their heart’s content.
We argue that appropriate fiscal measures to assign financial costs to environmental degradation, are the most cost effective way of safeguarding the earth. We also explore some of the technical means that might be used in that context, and the sociopolitical obstacles in the way of reaching an agreement on a course of action to this purpose. We take the necessity of measures to contain environmental degradation, and global warming in particular, for granted.
In addition, the practice of discounting, as almost invariably applied in cost benefit analysis, has no clear and consistent support in economic theory, and certainly not in relation to the containment of long-term environmental degradation. Three arguments, each of them flawed, are raised in the defence of the erroneous idea, that somehow, there are objective reasons for regarding the future as less important than our present affluence.
I believe that all will be welcome if you are in the University of Birmingham direction next Monday and fancy a limp sandwich and some environmental economics.