Managing Pollution

Managing Pollution

Economic Valuation and Environmental Toxicology

Edited by Clive L. Spash and Sandra McNally

Economists are concerned by a wide range of environmental impacts from pollutants, as they affect human welfare and not just human health. This insightful book demonstrates how economic analysis can contribute to decision making in environmental policy and discusses the theoretical limitations of economic valuation.

Chapter 4: Air pollution and agricultural crop damage: can Europe learn from the United States?

Clive L. Spash

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, environmental economics


Clive L. Spash* INTRODUCTION Air pollution plays an important role in altering the environment in which agricultural crops must be grown. A range of air pollutants are now recognized as likely causes of economic loss. These range from local ozone smog due to traffic emissions, regional acidic deposition from nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide, through to global climate change due to carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, methane and nitrous oxide. Economic assessments of the agricultural impact of air pollutants received most interest in the 1980s in the United States, boosted by government-funded research projects. Research into the economic impacts of air pollution in relationship to agricultural crops has been conducted for tropospheric ozone, acidic deposition and global climate change (or more specifically increased temperature or reduced soil moisture with/without carbon dioxide fertilization (Adams et al. 1988). As discussed in this review, European research has lagged sorely behind in this area. Economic assessments of crop losses related to air pollution are sometimes associated with an interest in forest declines. However, forestry is a multiple output production system and the assessment of impacts on forestry raises much wider issues of non-market valuation than agricultural crop loss (such as biodiversity, aesthetics and recreation). As a result, forest damages are poorly represented in purely market-related models as applied to agricultural crop loss. For example, Carrier and Kripple (1990) report on the economic losses in European forests due to sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and ammonia, a study by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). They...

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