Confronting Environmental Issues
Edited by Richard P.F. Holt, Steven Pressman and Clive L. Spash
Chapter 5: The Post Keynesian/Ecological Economics of Kenneth Boulding
1 Robert H. Scott, III Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. (Boulding, 1966, p. 3) INTRODUCTION On 8 March 1966 at the sixth Resources for the Future Forum on Environmental Quality in a Growing Economy, Kenneth Boulding (1966) presented his now famous paper ‘The economics of the coming spaceship earth’. This paper, arguably, marks the beginning of modern ecological economics. In it, Boulding castigates neoclassical economists for ignoring the environment in their models. As Ehrun Kula (1998, p. 4) accurately states, Boulding’s paper ‘must be one of the most thought-provoking pieces written on the environment this century’. Robert Heilbroner (1975, p. 77) called it a ‘classic’. Its importance is mostly due to the fact that until this time mainstream economists were largely silent about how the economy impacts upon the environment (as well as how the environment impacts upon the economy). Boulding’s article made it clear that the environment is important, and also made it clear that economists could no longer ignore it in their analyses. In the 1970s, due to growing national interest in environmental issues (resulting in the first Earth Day and creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in the USA) mainstream neoclassical economists developed two subfields to study the environment: (1) environmental economics; and (2) natural resource economics. Today most mainstream economists use the term ‘environmental economics’ to encompass both subfields. Environmental economics studies the effects (or inclusions) of economic activity on the...
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