18 February 2013

Does the economy owe ecology an apology?

That's what I said in "The economy owes ecology an apology," an essay that I need to revise and submit in the next week or so.

My thesis is that bad economic models and missing data have contributed to policies that directly harm the environment -- and indirectly harm society.

Got comments, corrections or additions? Please leave them here or email me.


  1. Excellent essay David. The only quibble I have is with the title. I would suggest "Some economists owe ecology an apology" or "Economics owes ecology an apology".

  2. Great piece, but I want to point out two nit-picky things.

    Line 33: "though" should be "thought"
    Line 220 & 222: citation format is inconsistent with what is seen elsewhere. Also, choose either "see" or "e.g.,"

    Also, three more broader points.

    Could you include a discussion of the problems of racing after efficiency over transition? (I.e., while it might be "better" to minimize CO2 emissions through efficiency, you cannot have a 100% efficient system, and - at the end of the day - burning fossil fuels is not efficient.) It seems that both engineers and economists are prone to wanting to do this; maybe because of the centrality of the concept of "efficiency" in their disciplines...?

    A point that you might consider discussing is also the historic failings of including natural resource economics and environmental economics (and - more recently - ecological economics) more centrally into economics. (Even a discussion of how societal perspective on products - e.g., natural "resources" - instead of processes has led to distortions in measuring and placing sustaining value on those things we normally think of as resources.)

    Another point that you might consider expanding something that you seem to start in lines 170-174: that divorcing economic decisions from environmental processes (and not only societal values toward the environment) has brought about its own problems.

  3. I proposed this title as a reference for a topic to write about, rather than to have something like 'a theoretical framework for an economic model (comprising 22 or so parameters) to estimate linkage options between green growth and water resources management, with a small part of the San Francisco Bay area as an example where it did (not) work (depending on your political view and whether you think green growth, or growth for that matter, is a good thing)'.

    I found this title catchier. It works.

    Now click on my name.
    During this UNESCO meeting David will talk about 'Groundwater governance: The road from theory to failure'. Thursday 21 March, The Hague Institute for Global Justice, NL. As always, all information will be available for free online and (partly) in print. We do not charge authors for receiving a copy of their contribution.

  4. @Joel -- that's a better title. Thanks.
    @ Umlud -- good points that I'll integrate. Email me if you want an acknowledgement for a name other than Umlud :)


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