Handbook of Environmental and Resource Economics
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Handbook of Environmental and Resource Economics

Edited by Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh

This major reference book comprises specially commissioned surveys in environmental and resource economics written by an international team of experts. Authoritative yet accessible, each entry provides a state-of-the-art summary of key areas that will be invaluable to researchers, practitioners and advanced students.
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Chapter 61: Ecological Principles and Environmental Economic Analysis

R. Folke


Car1 Folke 1. Introduction The rapid expansion of the scale of human actions has radically transformed the Earth (Turner et al., 1990). This transformation has turned the capacity of ecosystems to generate a continuous flow of natural resources and ecosystem services into an increasingly limiting factor for social and economic development (Jansson et al., 1994). But the need for functional ecosystems is scarcely reflected in market prices, seldom perceived by individuals, or fully taken into account by the institutions that provide the framework for human action, whether political or social. Its contribution to economic development and growth is still ‘mentally hidden’ to many actors of modern society. This is reflected, for example, in most models of economic growth where the necessity of the environmental resource base for human welfare is not accounted for (Dasgupta, 1997). The escalating globalization of human activities, population growth and large-scale movements of people have placed mankind in an era of unfamiliar dynamics and interdependence of ecological, social and economic systems at regional and even planetary scales (Daily and Ehrlich, 1992; Holling, 1994). They have become so interconnected that rational decisions by individuals locally, or on the project level, may spill over and generate regional and global effects, witnessed in, for example, climate change and the evolution of new diseases (Houghton et al., 1996; McMichael et al., 1996). It is a major challenge in this new situation, and for the prosperous development of human societies, to ensure the capacity of ecosystems to generate natural resources and...

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