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David Pearce and the economic valuation of biodiversity

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  • R. Simpson

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    Abstract

    David Pearce was a pioneer in the economic valuation of biodiversity. His work powerfully influenced both later economists who worked in the field and natural scientists and practitioners who gained and appreciation of the importance of economics to their efforts. Pearce often applied the paradigm of demonstration followed by appropriation: the values of biodiversity must first be demonstrated to those who make decisions concerning its survival, and then appropriated by them. The later step will be possible when market and policy failures are rectified so as to allow the realization of conservation values. While Pearce wrote extensively on these themes, he was also acutely aware of the limitations of the paradigm. Rosy projections of values that could not be realized and appropriated would be of little practical use, and Pearce often cautioned against excesses of optimism. Yet he also clearly believed that there are compelling, if not always easily demonstrated, reasons for conservation. I argue in this paper that Pearce’s seminal work on the valuation of biodiversity cannot be understood without some appreciation of his philosophical perspective. Pearce would have described himself as a pragmatist. However, his pragmatism was grounded in the belief that it is both expedient and ethical to recognize that communities in some of the poorest corners of the world will only conserve biodiversity if they are justly compensated for the sacrifices they must make to do so. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists in its journal Environmental and Resource Economics.

    Volume (Year): 37 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 1 (May)
    Pages: 91-109

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:37:y:2007:i:1:p:91-109

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    Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100263

    Related research

    Keywords: Biodiversity; Valuation; Stated preference; Ethics; Development; Market failure; Policy failure; Appropriation;

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    1. Rausser, Gordon C. & Small, Arthur A., 2000. "Valuing Research Leads: Bioprospecting and the Conservation of Genetic Resources," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt4t56m5b8, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    2. Costello, Christopher & Ward, Michael B., 2007. "Search, bioprospecting, and biodiversity conservation," MPRA Paper 26527, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Plantinga, Andrew J. & Lubowski, Ruben N. & Stavins, Robert N., 2002. "The effects of potential land development on agricultural land prices," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 561-581, November.
    4. Douglas M. Larson, 1993. "On Measuring Existence Value," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 69(4), pages 377-388.
    5. Diamond, P., 1993. "Testing the Internal Consistency of Contingent Valuation Surveys," Working papers 93-1, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    6. David Pearce, 2008. "Do We Really Care About Biodiversity?," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 40(4), pages 611-611, August.
    7. Ian Bateman & Edward Barbier & Scott Barrett, 2007. "Introduction to the special issue in honour of David W. Pearce: environmental economics and policy," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 37(1), pages 1-6, May.
    8. Ger Klaassen & David Pearce, 1995. "Introduction," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 5(2), pages 85-93, March.
    9. Vatn Arild & Bromley Daniel W., 1994. "Choices without Prices without Apologies," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 129-148, March.
    10. Polasky, Stephen & Costello, Christopher & Solow, Andrew, 2005. "The Economics of Biodiversity," Handbook of Environmental Economics, in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 29, pages 1517-1560 Elsevier.
    11. Simpson, R David & Sedjo, Roger A & Reid, John W, 1996. "Valuing Biodiversity for Use in Pharmaceutical Research," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(1), pages 163-85, February.
    12. Carson, Richard T & Flores, Nicholas A, 2000. "Contingent Valuation: Controversies and Evidence," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt75k752s7, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
    13. Swanson, Timothy M, 1994. "The Economics of Extinction Revisited and Revised: A Generalised Framework for the Analysis of the Problems of Endangered Species and Biodiversity Losses," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(0), pages 800-821, Supplemen.
    14. Barbier Edward B & Heal Geoffrey M, 2006. "Valuing Ecosystem Services," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 3(3), pages 1-6, February.
    15. Charles Perrings & David Pearce, 1994. "Threshold effects and incentives for the conservation of biodiversity," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 4(1), pages 13-28, February.
    16. Andrew Metrick & Martin L. Weitzman, 1998. "Conflicts and Choices in Biodiversity Preservation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 21-34, Summer.
    17. David Pearce, 2005. "Paradoxes in Biodiversity Conservation," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 6(3), pages 57-69, July.
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    Cited by:
    1. Jean-Philippe Barde, 2007. "Harnessing the political economy of environmental policy: David Pearce’s contribution to OECD," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 37(1), pages 33-42, May.
    2. Erwin, Patrick M. & López-Legentil, Susanna & Schuhmann, Peter W., 2010. "The pharmaceutical value of marine biodiversity for anti-cancer drug discovery," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 445-451, December.
    3. Jack Sinden & Wendy Gong & Randall Jones, 2011. "Estimating the Costs of Protecting Native Species from Invasive Animal Pests in New South Wales, Australia," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 50(2), pages 203-226, October.
    4. Louis Dupuy, 2012. "International Trade and Sustainability: A survey," Larefi Working Papers 1201, Larefi, Université Bordeaux 4.
    5. Justin Tevie & Kristine M. Grimsrud & Robert P. Berrens, 2011. "Testing the Environmental Kuznets Curve Hypothesis for Biodiversity Risk in the US: A Spatial Econometric Approach," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(11), pages 2182-2199, November.
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