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Strategies for the maintenance of natural capital

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  • Spash, Clive L.
  • Clayton, Anthony M. H.

Abstract

Economic models cannot give us the information society needs to define the set of possible future scenarios facing the world. Thus "optimal" economic plans are susceptible to being overwhelmed by feedbacks of which humans are ignorant as economic systems increasingly stress ecosystems. These concerns have lead to a call for the maintenance of a fixed natural capital stock as a safe minimum standard. This paper analyzes the reasoning behind defining a class of inputs to production as natural capital. Two motivations are shown to be important justifications for the new class of capital: ecological criticality and non-human intrinsic values. We argue that these justifications require the maintenance of resources which are excluded from exploitation, but that the free market system cannot achieve this goal due to a basic assumption of trade-offs being derived from utilitarianism and the basis of constraints in economic value. Three methods which have been suggested for the protection of natural capital are reviewed; namely: compensating projects, cost-benefit analysis, and scientifically designated limits. Each of these approaches is shown to be inadequate at addressing the concerns which have led to the concept of natural capital. A, fourth, more interdisciplinary and inclusive approach is necessary and a type of systems analysis, employing Sustainability Assessment Maps, is put forward as a method which could fill that gap. This is a paper from the Ecological Economics discussion paper series edited by Clive L. Spash and run from Stirling University from 1994 to 1996. This particular paper was later published as (Spash and Clayton 1997). Spash, C.L. & A.M.H. Clayton. 1997. The maintenance of natural capital: Motivations and methods. In Space, Place and Environmental Ethics, eds. A. Light & J.M. Smith, 143-173. Lanham, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 38273.

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Date of creation: Jun 1995
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:38273

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Related research

Keywords: natural capital; sustainability; utilitarianism; intrinsic values; strong uncertainty; ecosystem values; multiple criteria; plural values; ethics; cost-benefit analysis; compensation; regulation;

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References

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  1. Michael Redclift, 1993. "Sustainable Development: Needs, Values, Rights," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 2(1), pages 3-20, February.
  2. Nick Hanley & Clive L Spash, 1993. "Preferences, Information and Biodiversity Preservation," Working Papers Series 93/12, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
  3. Hartwick, John M, 1977. "Intergenerational Equity and the Investing of Rents from Exhaustible Resources," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 972-74, December.
  4. Alistair Munro & Nick Hanley, 1991. "Shadow Projects and the Stock of Natural Capital: A Cautionary Note," Working Papers Series 91/8, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
  5. William D. Nordhaus, 1982. "How Fast Should We Graze the Global Commons?," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 615, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  6. Berkes, Fikret & Folke, Carl, 1992. "A systems perspective on the interrelations between natural, human-made and cultural capital," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 1-8, March.
  7. Daly, Herman E., 1990. "Toward some operational principles of sustainable development," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 1-6, April.
  8. Common, Mick & Perrings, Charles, 1992. "Towards an ecological economics of sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 7-34, July.
  9. Thomas H. Stevens & Jaime Echeverria & Ronald J. Glass & Tim Hager & Thomas A. More, 1991. "Measuring the Existence Value of Wildlife: What Do CVM Estimates Really Show?," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 67(4), pages 390-400.
  10. Paul P. Craig & Harold Glasser & Willett Kempton, 1993. "Ethics and Values in Environmental Policy: The Said and the UNCED," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 2(2), pages 137-157, May.
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Cited by:
  1. MacDonald, Daisy V. & Hanley, Nick & Moffatt, Ian, 1999. "Applying the concept of natural capital criticality to regional resource management," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 73-87, April.

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