Edited by Henk Folmer, H. Landis Gabel, Shelby Gerking and Adam Rose
Chapter 2: The environment and economic well-being
Robert Kaufmann 1 INTRODUCTION The nascent discipline of ecological economics is at a critical point. It was developed by ecologists and economists to remedy ﬂaws that they perceived in the economic approach to resource and environmental management. To do so, these scientists developed a logically consistent model of human interactions with the environment. This ecological economic model is irreconcilable with many aspects of the mainstream economic model. This led to a considerable body of empirical research that tested the explanatory power of the ecological economic model relative to the mainstream economic model. In general, the ecological model performed well. Despite these successes, I believe that ecological economics is on the verge of being absorbed by mainstream economics. Many of the articles published in the journal Ecological Economics could be published in mainstream economic journals. While this is not bad, it causes me to wonder whether the ecological economic model is useful, or whether ecological economics is another name for resource and environmental economics. Put simply, is there a future for ecological economics? I believe ecological economics has a future beyond mainstream economics. This optimism is based on my belief that the ecological economic model can be used to generate insights that are not available to those who start with the economic model. In this chapter, I describe the evolution and general nature of the ecological economic model, how ecological economics has lost its way, and how it can right itself. To regain its viability, ecological economics must compete directly with...
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