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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

Suggested Citation

  • R. Simpson, 2007. "David Pearce and the economic valuation of biodiversity," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 37(1), pages 91-109, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:37:y:2007:i:1:p:91-109 DOI: 10.1007/s10640-007-9109-4
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gordon C. Rausser & Arthur A. Small, 2000. "Valuing Research Leads: Bioprospecting and the Conservation of Genetic Resources," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(1), pages 173-206, February.
    2. 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.
    3. 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, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 37(1), pages 1-6, May.
    4. David Pearce, 2008. "Do We Really Care About Biodiversity?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 40(4), pages 611-611, August.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Costello, Christopher & Ward, Michael, 2006. "Search, bioprospecting and biodiversity conservation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 615-626, November.
    8. Barbier Edward B & Heal Geoffrey M, 2006. "Valuing Ecosystem Services," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 3(3), pages 1-6, February.
    9. Richard Carson & Nicholas Flores & Norman Meade, 2001. "Contingent Valuation: Controversies and Evidence," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 19(2), pages 173-210, June.
    10. Sandler,Todd, 1997. "Global Challenges," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521587495, December.
    11. Diamond, Peter, 1996. "Testing the Internal Consistency of Contingent Valuation Surveys," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 337-347, May.
    12. 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.
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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, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 37(1), pages 33-42, May.

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