Sunday, March 18, 2007

Environmental Economics

So, I'm reading the seminal text on this subject by Turner, Pearce & Bateman. I was induced to buy this book as part of my minor undergraduate course in ocean science. I never got to grips with it and studiously avoided the questions on the subject in the exams but I was always drawn to the logic of the arguments of my lecturer- whose name escapes me at this moment.

"Questions concerning 'fair' distributions of resources can quickly become complicated and, in the environmental context, will involve fairness not just between individual people alive now but also between them and future generations yet to come. To take just one illustrative example, the exploitation of resources such as fossil fuels and minerals like iron ore and bauxite (non-renewables) today means less of a stock left for future generations. ( Other resources (renewables) like fisheries and forests may also be over-exploited and not given enough time to regenerate. Again the stocks of such assets for future generations will be reduced. The question can then be posed: "Is this fair?"

Is it 'right' that those of us alive now should essentially destroy assets ( and economic opportunities that they yield) gaining benefits in the process, while passing on the costs to people not yet alive, and who have had no say in the matter?

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