Joint Production and Responsibility in Ecological Economics

Joint Production and Responsibility in Ecological Economics

On the Foundations of Environmental Policy

Advances in Ecological Economics series

Stefan Baumgärtner, Malte Faber and Johannes Schiller

This groundbreaking book takes a fresh look at how environmental problems emerge from economic activity and how they may be addressed in a responsible and sustainable manner. At its centre is the concept of joint production. This captures the phenomenon whereby several effects necessarily emerge from one activity and whereby human action always entails unintended consequences. This, according to the authors, is the structural cause behind modern-day environmental problems.

Chapter 1: Introduction: Joint Production and Ecological Economics

Harald Dyckhoff and John Proops

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


∗ with Harald Dyckhoff and John Proops 1.1 Introduction Human existence is unthinkable without its relationship to nature. This relationship is twofold. On the one hand, humans depend in a variety of ways on nature and the services it provides. Examples include resources such as water, food and fuels; functions such as the regulation of climate, floods and diseases; cultural services such as recreation as well as aesthetic and spiritual fulfilment; and the space for unfolding all kinds of human activity. On the other hand, human activity impacts the natural environment: humans intentionally shape their natural environment to form their space of living; they take resource materials from, and release substances into, natural ecosystems; and in so doing they alter natural processes and functions. The imperative of sustainability requires sustaining nature’s functioning and services for humans over the long run. So, the relationship between humans and nature must be of a certain quality. This poses a challenge for how humans should act towards nature. The challenge has many facets which have to be addressed when studying the relationship between humans and nature, and when developing recommendations for sustainable policy: • There is an inextricable interaction of processes from the natural sphere, traditionally analysed by the natural sciences; the social and economic sphere, traditionally analysed by the social sciences; and categories of human thinking, which is the domain of philosophy. This requires an interdisciplinary approach. ∗ Sections 1.2–1.6 are based on Baumg¨rtner, Dyckhoff, Faber, Proops and Schiller a (2001). 1 2...