Economics and "Sustainability": Balancing Trade-Offs and Imperatives
The concept of "sustainability" has been increasingly invoked in scholarly and public policy debates. Discussion has been hampered, however, by uncertainty and lack of uniformity in the meaning of sustainability. This paper seeks to identify some common ground among economists, ecologists, and environmental ethicists. Two issues seem salient: requirements for inter generational equity and the definition of "social capital" to be provided to future generations. A concept of "safe minimum standard," which has received at least some recognition in the ecology, philosophy, and economics literatures, may provide the beginnings of a common ground for debate about sustainability.
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