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Total economic valuation of threatened and endangered species Last Updated on 2014-06-28 17:32:13 [Authorship attribution for this article should be cited as John Loomis, Leslie Richardson and Arthur Edwards] Protecting  habitats for species threatened with or in danger of extinction is often aided by demonstrating the economic benefits to such protection comparable to the benefits of  developing the habitat. The financial returns to commercial development are often obvious and concentrated in the hands of a few. The benefits of protecting threatened and endangered species (T&E) are widespread to hundreds of millions, if not several billion people on the planet. However, if the monetary benefits of protecting T&E species are not measured, then it appears that commercial development is of greater economic use than preservation of the habitat. This feeds the false dichotomy of the “economy versus the environment”. This article will show, the... More »
Tug of water: an economic perspective on water and the environment Last Updated on 2014-06-28 17:29:44 As economies expand globally, the strain on the earth’s natural resources becomes increasingly apparent, and perhaps one of the most pertinent issues facing us today is that of water scarcity. Hitherto widely perceived as a free good, the demand for water now outstrips supply over much of the earth’s surface. Indeed, the International Water Management Institute estimates that one third of the world’s population face some form of water scarcity, either due to lack of investment in water supply (or inequitable distribution) or due to physical scarcity, where there is not enough water to meet demands. It is the latter situation that is most pertinent in terms of impacts on our natural capital. In these areas, increasing demand for water means that aquatic and other water-dependent ecosystems are threatened by the abstraction or pollution of the flows that are required to... More »
Forest environmental income and the rural poor Last Updated on 2014-06-11 15:09:09 There has in recent years been a growing recognition of the important role played by environmental goods and services in the livelihoods of poor people. This recognition was, in part, spawned by the rising awareness of the extent of poverty that emerged in the 1980s. Associated issues have also contributed, including the focus on natural resource scarcity as a cause of violent conflict and the often sharp divide between conservation and development interests. From a more practical perspective, studies of income from natural resources should represent important input into policy making for rural areas. And accurate mapping of poverty, which is emphasized in multilateral initiatives such as poverty reduction strategies and the Millennium Development Goals, requires inclusion of all sources of income, including natural capital such as forests and woodlands. Here, we first discuss... More »
Energy quality Last Updated on 2014-03-06 16:45:22 Energy quality refers to differences in the ability of a unit of energy to produce goods and services for people. The usefulness of an energy system is determined by a complex combination of physical, technical, economic, and social attributes. These include gravimetric and volumetric energy density, power density, emissions, cost and efficiency of conversion, financial risk, amenability to storage, risk to human health, and ease of transport. No single metric of an energy system captures all such attributes. It stands to reason, therefore, that a comprehensive and balanced comparison of energy technologies should employ a range of metrics, with their strengths and weaknesses duly noted. The most common way to measure energy is by heat content because all forms of energy can be completely converted to heat (Btus, joules, calories, kilowatt-hours). The aggregation of... More »
Limitations of markets Last Updated on 2013-11-18 08:49:39 There are a number of ways in which economic theory affects both the study and the practice of business. Economic theories may be offered to explain how businesses operate; students and teachers of business generally ignore some of the less realistic portions of these explanations, while making use of the more practical aspects. Economic theories are also used as justification for government policies that regulate or otherwise affect business. There is an especially relevant part of economic theory that describes how socially optimal results can come about through perfect markets that allocate resources according to society’s most preferred uses. This theory is important because it is the theoretic underpinning for policies and prescriptions that have significantly shaped the modern world. Recommendations to reduce trade restrictions; to privatize utilities, prisons, or water... More »