Economics and Ecology
United for a Sustainable World
CRC Press – 2011 – 220 pages
The earth, our home, is in crisis. There are two sides to this crisis—our global economy, and its effect on the ecology of our home planet. Despite conventional thinking that typical monetary and fiscal manipulations will put us back on the path of economic growth, the reality is not that simple. Meanwhile, the natural environment is sending unmistakable warnings. Glaciers are melting; oceans are becoming dangerously acidic; species and their ecological services are becoming extinct; and weather patterns are becoming increasingly severe and unpredictable each year. The stress on resource systems of all kinds threatens to shrink the carrying capacity of the planet, even as we call upon it for increased contributions to support a burgeoning human population.
Co-written by an ecologist and an economist, Economics and Ecology: United for a Sustainable World counsels the replacement of symptomatic thinking with a systemic worldview that treats the environment and the economy as an ecosystemic unit. The first part of the book establishes the methodological and biophysical principles needed to develop the concept of socioeconomic sustainability. The second part of the book examines the misuse of economics in the service of what increasingly appears to be a ruinous pursuit of material wealth and expansion. The third part offers advice on reconciling economics and ecology by proposing an economics in which the principles employed are aligned with the biophysical principles of ecology.
This timely volume puts forth a sustainable worldview based on systemic thinking, with the emphasis more on what and how people think than on what they do. A unique reference for professionals and laypersons alike, it can also serve as a supplementary classroom text for students of economics, ecology, biology, and environmental science.
SETTING THE STAGE
An Evolutionary View of America
Lessons from Our Energy History
Energy—The Critical Resource
The Flow of Energy Is the Only Real Economy
Follow the Energy—Not the Money
Lessons from the Laws of Thermodynamics
Five Operating Principles
ECONOMICS IN THEORY AND PRACTICE
The Innate Nature of Economics
Scarcity and Human Survival
Economics and Human Nature
Rational Economic Man
From Necessities to Wants and Subsistence to Wealth
Misuse of Economics in Practice
Growth as Economic Religion
Consumption for Survival
Consumption in Practice
Affluence as an Unmitigated Public Good
Toward an Economics of Enough
Original Intention: Meet Human Necessities
The Goal Has Been Unlimited Production
Reconciling the Differences
The Concept of Productivity
Politics, Economics, and Externalities
Understanding the Language
The Nature of Markets
Imperfect Property Rights
Proceeding through Example—The Paper Mill
Drawing Some Conclusions
The Question of Who Gets What
Distribution: The All-Important, Ignored Element
Economic Methodology Thwarts Redistribution
Revisiting the Notion of Surplus
Inequality and Economic Realities
Equity and Social Justice—The Key to Real Sustainability
Macroeconomics—Is It Still Helpful in an Age of Scarcity?
Origins of Macroeconomics
Basic Macroeconomic Worldview
The Keynesian Dilemma—Unemployment or Inflation?
Controlling the Economy
Revisiting the Capitalist Scenario
Age of Scarcity Changes the Paradigm
A Growing Economy, a Planet in Peril
RECONCILIATION AND LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
The Meaning of Social-Environmental Sustainability
The Three Pillars of Sustainability
Understanding the Triple Bottom-Line
Sustainability in Practice—The Track Record
Imagining the Ideal World
We Can Only Move toward a Positive
Economic Development in the Current World
Targeting the Strategy
Counsel for Getting There
Communities Must Actively Plan Their Own Futures
Broad-Based Participation a Necessity
Need for Bottom-Up Thinking
A Final Word on Growth
Chapters include endnotes.
Russ Beaton received his bachelor’s degree from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, and his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Claremont University, California. His original training was in mathematical economics and econometrics, although his doctoral thesis was in location theory and urban land economics, which became a lifetime interest.
After teaching for 3 years at California State College at Fullerton (now Fullerton State University), and 4 years at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Beaton returned to his alma mater, Willamette University, where he taught economics and did research for 33 years.
He has consulted and done policy-based contract research for at least six different agencies of the State of Oregon, in areas such as land use, agriculture, timber, transportation, energy, housing, and general economic policy.
Beaton is coauthor with Chris Maser of two other books and participated in drafting the legislation, passed by the 1973 Oregon Legislature, that created Oregon’s widely acclaimed land use planning system.
Chris Maser was trained in zoology and ecology and worked for 25 years as a research scientist in agricultural, coastal, desert, forest, valley grassland, shrub steppe, and subarctic settings in various parts of the world before realizing that science is not designed to answer the vast majority of questions society is asking it to address.
Maser gave up active scientific research in 1987 and has since worked to unify scientific knowledge with social values in helping to create sustainable communities and landscapes, part of which entails his facilitating the resolution of social-environmental conflicts. He has contributed to more than 286 publications, including 34 books, mostly dealing with some aspect of social-environmental sustainability.
Although he has worked and lectured in Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Slovakia, and Switzerland, he calls Corvallis, Oregon, home.