Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Environmental economics and ecological economics: the contribution of interdisciplinarity to understanding, influence and effectiveness

  • SHARON BEDER (a1)
Summary

This paper reviews developments in both environmental economics and ecological economics with respect to their progress towards environmental interdisciplinarity and towards providing solutions to environmental problems. The concepts, methods, theories and assumptions of each field of knowledge are reviewed and the extent to which they depart from the dominant neoclassical paradigm of economics is assessed. The contribution that interdisciplinarity has made to the success of each field is analysed in terms of understanding, influence and effectiveness and the constraints that it has imposed upon that success. Environmental economics has adopted the dominant economic neoclassical paradigm, including the power of the market to allocate environmental resources efficiently and in a socially optimal way. The solution to environmental problems is thus seen as a matter of ensuring that the environment is properly priced to reflect the relative scarcity of natural resources and assets and to ensure that environmental values are incorporated into the market. This specialized view of environmental problems is now reflected in government policy around the world including the use of extended cost benefit analyses, contingent valuations, environmental charges and emissions trading. Nevertheless, environmental problems continue to grow in severity and the solutions provided by environmental economists have proven ineffective. Thus lack of interdisciplinarity does not prevent a field of knowledge from gaining influence and dominance, however its effectiveness in terms of understanding environmental problems and solving them is impeded. Ecological economics seeks to incorporate the research of economists, ecologists, philosophers and social scientists, however its influence seems to be have been limited to areas in which it retains the standard economics framework, and this limits its effectiveness in terms of environmental solutions. Thus interdisciplinarity may increase understanding of the real world but it cannot overcome political and social barriers to translating that understanding into the widespread implementation of effective environmental measures.

Copyright
Corresponding author
*Correspondence: Dr Sharon Beder, University of Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia e-mail: sharonb@uow.edu.au
References
Hide All
Ackerman, F. & Heinzerling, L. (2004) Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing. New York, NY, USA: The New Press.
Baumgärtner, S., Becker, C., Frank, K., Müller, B. & Quaas, M. (2008) Relating the philosophy and practice of ecological economics: the role of concepts, models, and case studies in inter- and transdisciplinary sustainability research. Ecological Economics 67: 384393.
Baumol, W.J. & Oates, W.E. (1988) The Theory of Environmental Policy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Beder, S. (1996) Charging the earth: the promotion of price-based measures for pollution control. Ecological Economics 16: 5163.
Beder, S. (2006) Environmental Principles and Policies. Sydney, Australia: UNSW Press.
Beder, S. (2010) Business-managed democracy: the trade agenda. Critical Social Policy 20 (14): 496518
Bennett, J. (1991) Economics and the resolution of environmental questions. In: Environmental Backgrounder: Reconciling Economics with the Environment. Sydney, Australia: Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).
Bijker, W., Hughes, T. & Pinch, T., eds (1987) The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Chant, J., McFetridge, D. & Smith, D. (1990) The economics of the conserver society. In: Economics and the Environment: A Reconciliation, ed. Block, W., pp. 194. Vancouver, Canada: Fraser Institute.
Commonwealth Government of Australia (1990) Ecologically Sustainable Development: A Commonwealth Discussion Paper. Canberra, Australia: AGPS.
Cooper, P. & Hart, A. (1992) The legitimacy of applying cost-benefit analysis to environmental planning. People and Physical Environment Research 41–42: 1930.
Costanza, R., d'Arge, R., de Groot, R., Farberparallel, S., Grasso, M., Hannon, B., Limburg, K., Naeem, S., O'Neill, R.V., Paruelo, J., Raskin, R., Sutton, P. & Van Den Belt, M. (1997). The value of the world's ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature 387: 253260.
Costanza, R., Cumberland, J., Daly, H., Goodland, R. & Norgaard, R. (2007) An introduction to ecological economics: chapter 2. In: Encyclopedia of Earth [www document]. URL http://www.eoearth.org/article/An_Introduction_to_Ecological_Economics:_Chapter_2
Daily, G.C., ed. (1997) Nature's Services: Societal Dependence on Natural Ecosystems. Washington, DC, USA: Island Press.
Daly, H.E. & Cobb, J.B.J. (1989) For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future. Boston, MA, USA: Beacon Press.
Driesen, D.M. (1998) Free lunch or cheap fix? The emissions trading idea and the climate change convention. Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review Fall [www document]. URL http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3816/is_199810/ai_n8818794
Drury, R.T., Belliveau, M.E., Kuhn, J.S. & Bansal, S. (1999) Pollution trading and environmental justice: Los Angeles’ failed experiment in air quality policy. Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum 9 (2): 231290.
Ehrenfeld, D. (1988) Why put a value on biodiversity? In: Biodiversity, ed. Wilson, E.O., Washington, DC, USA: National Academy Press.
Gómez-Baggethun, E., de Groot, R., Lomas, P.L. & Montes, C. (2010) The history of ecosystem services in economic theory and practice: from early notions to markets and payment schemes. Ecological Economics 69: 12091218.
Goodin, R. (1994) The ethics of selling environmental indulgences. Kyklos 47 (4): 573–96.
Hardin, G. (1968) The tragedy of the commons. Science 162: 12431248.
Kelman, S. (1983) Economic incentives and environmental policy: politics, ideology, and philosophy. In: Incentives for Environmental Protection, ed. Schelling, T., pp. 291331. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Kosoy, N. & Corbera, E. (2010) Payments for ecosystem services as commodity fetishism. Ecological Economics 69: 1281236.
Lohmann, L. (2004) Inquiry into the international challenge of climate change: UK leadership in the G8 and EU. The Corner House, SinksWatch, Carbon Trade Watch [www document]. URL http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/pdf/document/envtaud.pdf
MacKenzie, D. & Wajcman, J., eds (1985) The Social Shaping of Technology: How the Refrigerator Got its Hum. Milton Keynes, UK: Open University Press.
Max-Neef, M.A. (2005) Foundations of transdisciplinarity. Ecological Economics 53: 516.
Nadeau, R. (2008) Environmental and ecological economics. In: Encyclopedia of Earth [www document]. URL http://www.eoearth.org/article/Environmental_and_ecological_economics?topic=49536
Nijkamp, P., Vindigni, G. & Nunes, P.A.L.D. (2008) Economic valuation of biodiversity: a comparative study. Ecological Economics 67: 217231.
Norgaard, R.B. (2010) Ecosystem services: from eye-opening metaphor to complexity blinder. Ecological Economics 69: 12191227.
Nunes, P.A.L.D. & Nijkamp, P. (2008) Introduction to the special issue on biodiversity and policy. Ecological Economics 67: 159161.
Pearce, D., ed. (1991) Blueprint2: Greening the World Economy. London, UK: Earthscan.
Pearce, D. (1994) The precautionary principle and economic analysis. In: Interpreting the Precautionary Principle, ed. O'Riordan, T. & Cameron, J., pp. 132151. London, UK: Earthscan.
Pearce, D. (2002) An intellectual history of environmental economics. Annual Review of Energy and the Environment 27: 5781.
Pearce, D., Markandya, A. & Barbier, E. (1989) Blueprint for Green Economy. London, UK: Earthscan.
Rees, W.E. (1996) Revisiting carrying capacity: area-based indicators of sustainability. Population and Environment 17 (3): 195215.
Repetto, R. (1989) Wasting assets: the need for national resource accounting. Technology Review January: 39–44.
Repetto, R., Dower, R., Jenkins, R. & Geoghegan, J. (1992) Green Fees: How a Tax Shift can Work of the Environment and the Economy. Washington, DC, USA: World Resources Institute.
Reyers, B., Roux, D.J. & O'Farrell, P.J. (2010). Can ecosystem services lead ecology on a transdisciplinary pathway? Environmental Conservation 37 (4): 501511.
Robinson, J. & Ryan, S. (2002) A Review of economic instruments for environmental management in Queensland. CRC for Coastal Zone, Estuary and Waterway Management, Queensland, Australia [www document]. URL http://www.coastal.crc.org.au/pdf/economic_instruments.pdf
Ropke, I. (2004) The early history of modern ecological economics. Ecological Economics 50: 293314.
Ropke, I. (2005) Trends in the development of ecological economics from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. Ecological Economics 55: 262290.
Rosenberg, N. (1976) Perspectives on Technology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Rosewarne, S. (1993) Selling the environment: a critique of market ecology. In: Beyond the Market: Alternatives to Economic Rationalism, ed. Rees, S., Rodley, G. & Stilwell, F., pp. 5976. Leichardt, NSW, Australia: Pluto Press.
Schelling, T., ed. (1983) Incentives for Environmental Protection. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Self, P. (1990) Market ideology and good government. Current Affairs Bulletin 67 (4): 410.
Seneca, J. & Taussig, M. (1984) Environmental Economics. New Jersey, USA: Prentice-Hall.
Shrader-Frechette, K. (2002) Environmental Justice: Creating Equality, Reclaiming Democracy. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Solow, R,(1974) Intergenerational equity and exhaustible resources. Review of Economic Studies 42: 2945.
Spash, C.L. (1993) Economics, ethics, and long-term environmental damages. Environmental Ethics 15 (2): 117131.
Spash, C.L. (1999) The development of environmental thinking in economics. Environmental Values 8: 413435.
Stavins, R. (1989) Harnessing market forces to protect the environment. Environment 31 (1): 57.
Stavins, R. & Whitehead, B. (1992) Dealing with pollution: market-based incentives for environmental protection. Environment 34 (7): 711, 2942.
Steiner, H. (1992) Markets and the law: the case of environmental conservation. In: The Market and the State: Studies in Interdependence, ed. Moran, M. & Wright, M., pp. 4358. Basingstoke, UK: MacMillan.
Thampapillai, D.J. (1991) Environmental Economics. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
Tietenberg, T.H. (1988) Environmental and Natural Resources. Glenview, IL, USA: Scott, Foresman and Co.
Tietenberg, T.H. (1990) Using economic incentives to maintain our environment. Challenge 33 (2): 4246.
Waring, M. (1988) Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women are Worth. New Zealand: Allen & Unwin.
White, R. (1992) Towards a green economy: the market. In: Ecopolitics V, ed. Harding, R.. Sydney, Australia: University of NSW.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Environmental Conservation
  • ISSN: 0376-8929
  • EISSN: 1469-4387
  • URL: /core/journals/environmental-conservation
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed