The Nature of Ecological and Environmental Economics and its Growing Importance
Most ecological and environmental resources are scarce. Ecological economics and environmental economics are concerned with ways in which these resources can be better managed to reduce economic scarcity or more generally, administered to achieve particular objectives most economically. The way in which environmental impacts from economic activity can add to economic scarcity is illustrated and the importance of accounting for opportunity costs in assessing environmental changes is stressed. Growing concerns in recent decades about environmental issues have been reflected in important international political initiatives relating to the environment and development. These initiatives are identified and the general sources of environmental change (natural and human-induced) are considered with most attention being given to the relationship between economic growth and the environment. Subsequently, changing views of economists about the relationships between economic growth, the stock of natural resources and the state of the environment are outlined and discussed. The views of classical and neo-classical economics are briefly examined but most attention is given to the views of neo-Malthusians and their concerns about the sustainability of economic growth. The extent of environmental change as a result of global economic growth and development has undoubtedly contributed to the growing importance of ecological and environmental economics.
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