Cover image for Natural capital and human economic survival
Natural capital and human economic survival
Prugh, Tom.
Personal Author:
Second edition.
Publication Information:
Solomons, Md : International Society for Ecological Economics ; Boca Raton, FL : Lewis Publishers, [1999]

Physical Description:
180 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Added Author:
Format :


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HC79.E5 P748 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Most people love nature and consider themselves environmentalists, but nature isn't just pretty and lovable, it is indispensable to our survival and economic activity. That is the most compelling reason for environmental protection.
The conventional economic wisdom views land (natural capital) as a small part of the economy, along with capital, labor, technology and so on. The authors argue that this is backwards: that the economy nests within the environment (land) and not the other way around.
The authors give a brief history of the origins of conventional economic wisdom and critique it from a the standpoint of ecological economics. They explain what natural capital -our life support system - is and does, and describe the severe strains that have been put on it. They conclude with some policy options, such as green taxes and suggestions for personal action that would conserve natural capital and thus make conserve resources for present and future generations.
Natural Capital and Human Economic Survival is written for environmentalists, environmental studies majors and anyone concerned about the flaws of mainstream economics - how it has led us into unsustainable ways of living - and who would like to learn about alternatives that are more sustainable.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In this second edition, excellent insights into the fields of ecological and environmental economics are provided by Robert Costanza, John Cumberland, Herman Daly, Robert Goodland, Richard Norgaard, and Thomas Prugh. They include sections on the need for an ecological economics perspective, the definition, function, and valuation of natural capital, and the management of natural capital for sustainability. Further, the authors take issue with the common assumption in mainstream economic theory that natural capital and manufactured capital are substitutable and therefore not necessary to consider. They then describe the need to value the environment as an asset and discuss the urgency with which this must occur. The last section of the book provides very concrete methods for altering the current focus of environmental cost/benefit analysis to include the fundamental valuation of the environment as an asset with innate (and depreciable) value. This very readable and understandable publication would be useful as a supplemental text in environmental economics courses or as a required text in policy oriented courses. Recommended for all readers, the general public and up, with an interest in the environment. B. J. Peterson; Manchester College

Table of Contents

Forewordp. xi
Prefacep. xv
Section I The Ecological Economics Perspective and Why It's Needed
1 The Origins of Our Economic Worldviewp. 3
Classical Economics, Key Figures, Assumptionsp. 8
The Birth of Neoclassicismp. 13
Driven to Abstraction: The Neoclassical Legacyp. 16
2 The Ecological Economics Perspectivep. 19
The Coevolutionary Paradigmp. 21
Scale, Throughput, and Carrying Capacityp. 24
The Mostly Invisible Cityp. 26
Substitutability vs. Complementarityp. 31
Technological Optimism vs. Prudent Skepticismp. 34
Entropy and Economicsp. 40
What Sustainability Meansp. 43
Section II The Definition, Function, and Valuation of Natural Capital
3 What Natural Capital Is and Doesp. 49
What Does Natural Capital Do?p. 51
Biodiversity, Ecosystem Function, and the Economyp. 53
Four Functions of Natural Capitalp. 54
4 Depletion and Valuationp. 67
Some Evidence of Natural Capital Depletionp. 69
The Green Devolutionp. 74
A Fearful Asymmetry: Accounting for Natural Capitalp. 78
The Monetary Valuation of Natural Capitalp. 88
When "Discounted" Doesn't Mean a Bargainp. 89
An Alternativep. 95
Section III Managing Natural Capital for Sustainability
5 Investing in Natural Capital Incentives and Obstaclesp. 101
The Nutshell Case for Natural Capital Investmentp. 102
Why We Ignore Natural Capitalp. 105
Command-and-Control Regulationp. 111
Incentive-Based Systemsp. 114
6 Some Investment Strategiesp. 119
Green Taxesp. 121
Graded Ecozoningp. 124
Natural Capital Depletion Taxesp. 126
The Link Between Human and Natural Capitalp. 128
The Precautionary Polluter-Pays Principlep. 129
Ecological Tariffsp. 132
Natural Capital and International Tradep. 135
Property Rights Regimesp. 137
Resource Utilitiesp. 141
Two Sustainability Profilesp. 144
Afterwordp. 151
Appendix Some Tools For Personal and Community Actionp. 161
Glossaryp. 163
Referencesp. 167
Indexp. 173