Economics, Equity and the Ecological Predicament
Edited by Joshua Farley and Deepak Malghan
Chapter 14: Politics for a steady-state economy
After an exhilarating 15 years in the field, working with elk, bighorn sheep, bears, mountain lions and many more of the ‘charismatic megafauna,’ I wanted to make a lasting contribution to wildlife conservation at a national level. So I went from the San Carlos Apache Reservation, where I was serving as the Recreation and Wildlife Department Director, to the University of Arizona for a PhD in renewable natural resources studies. I minored in political science so I could work my way into public policy. My dissertation was a policy analysis of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and I used an approach called ‘policy design theory’ (Schneider and Ingram, 1997). Policy design theory requires the analyst to account for the context within which a policy functions (or doesn’t). I analyzed numerous angles of the context, but I always felt the most direct and relevant angle was the causes of species endangerment. After all, if it weren’t for those causes, we wouldn’t need an ESA. Conversely, the ESA was all about preventing or rectifying the causes. Tabulating the causes was a laborious (and often depressing) task; the resulting database included all 877 species listed as threatened or endangered at the time, with 18 columns representing distinct causes of endangerment. Although the causes were distinctive enough for categorization, the ‘average’ species was imperiled by approximately four such causes, and all the causes seemed intertwined (Czech et al., 2000).
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