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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10370/links-for-environmental-and-resource-economics/

Links for “Environmental and Resource Economics”

July 29, 2009 by

Here are some links based on my “Environmental and Resource Economics” lecture. The audio will be available at Mises.org soon. After the IHS Liberty & Society seminar I taught at in June, we collected links relevant to the discussions we had there. The links are here. For links on resource economics more specifically, here is an excellent EconTalk discussion with Mike Munger on the economics of recycling. This page includes a lot of great links on the economic way of thinking applied to environmental issues. Here is my paper “Economic Calculation in the Environmentalist Commonwealth” and a Forbes.com article based on it. I mentioned the work of the Property and Environment Research Center; here’s the article on DDT to which I referred. My advisor John Nye has a good article on Pigovian taxation and externalities in this issue of Regulation. I didn’t really get a chance to talk about this in my lecture, but while I’m enthusiastic about clean air it is important to note that hybrid cars are the world’s leading cause of smug. George Reisman has given several lectures on environmental economics at Mises University; some of these are available in his Mises.org media archive. Update: I was floored when I found out that one of the attendees at Mises U is a climatologist whose area of expertise is the Asian Brown Cloud, and another is a paleoclimatologist. I look forward to learning from them.

{ 10 comments }

newson July 29, 2009 at 6:40 pm

“asian brown cloud” – sounds terrible. please give me more information that i can start panicking straight away.

buzz kimball July 30, 2009 at 3:44 am

perhaps, recycling makes people feel good. just like some people feel good saying the government or the market will solve some long ongoing human problem.

frankly, i’d prefer clean air and clean water and better health than the ‘latest technology’.

Gil July 30, 2009 at 8:01 am

Is A. Carden trying to send a half-hearted limb to Greenies? Why should nature necessarily be protected by private interests? Why should nature preservation being worth more than urbanisation? How can nature reserves be consistent with homesteading? If anything nature reserves are the polar opposite: people are forbidden from changing the land, i.e. anti-homesteading. The predecessor to natures reserves were hunting grounds that were reserved by kings for exclusive hunting without having to encouter pesky peasants.

Lemmywinks July 30, 2009 at 11:17 am

As far as I can see, none of the articles advocate forcing private property owners to keep nature preserves. Free-market environmentalism mostly just means strict property rights, where people can choose to do with their land what they wish, but also air and water pollution costs must be internalized i.e. I can build a factory on my land, but I am liable for any pollution which interferes with the property of others. This is, ofcourse, much easier said than done.

Some organizations, like the Nature Conservancy, buy up land to make it into preserves. That’s a pretty good example of free-market environmentalism.

If private interests can’t preserve a clean environment, then the only alternative is government acquisition of land ,or government mandates on development. I don’t think most people on here would prefer that.

As for the articles, the DDT one is very good, but the recycling one is just a retread of an argument that has been presented a thousand times. It’s certainly possible that many materials would require less energy to harvest rather than recycle, but it’s naive to assume that our current market system is going to make this choice obvious. Much of logging is done on public land, serving as a huge subsidy and the actual cost of waste disposal is paid for by us. According to a Danish Technical Institute study “from 188 scenarios that included recycling, the overwhelming majority of them (83%) favoured recycling over either landfill or incineration.”

Bob Kaercher July 30, 2009 at 1:46 pm

“[P]eople can choose to do with their land what they wish, but also air and water pollution costs must be internalized i.e. I can build a factory on my land, but I am liable for any pollution which interferes with the property of others. This is, ofcourse, much easier said than done.”

I believe Rothbard wrote about this in one section of “For a New Liberty.” If I recall correctly, he mentions that during the Industrial Revolution there were factories that emitted silt and various kinds of industrial waste that floated downstream in creeks and rivers, contaminating farmers’ grazing lands. The farmers sought redress in the courts on the basis of English common law, but the government judges ruled in favor of the factories on collectivist grounds: The factories were employing masses of people and therefore supplying a “common good.”

scott t July 30, 2009 at 6:17 pm

http://www.junkscience.com has what seems to be a rather extensive list of articles and comments on DDT and the harrm or lack of that it has caused. i could find no mention on the site about the murphy individual spoken of at the PERC website (linked above).
http://www.junkscience.com/feb07.html forex. A brief history of the eagle population makes this clear. In 1941, before any DDT was used, 197 bald eagles were counted. In 1960, after 15 years of heavy DDT use, the count had risen to 891.” (Jay Lehr, The Heartland Institute)”
just one example.

i am still unsure about curbside recycling programs.
a landfill in my area was recently closed due to capacity i believe. it kinda smells in the summer but i believe it is geologically sound so no leachate will harm anyone..right next to a water treatment plant in fact and near the citys water supply.

i dont know if city trucks driving hundreds of miles around the city is better than if Alcoa was doing that.
my guess is that with aluminum, one the price gets to a certain level, will either be substituted for waxy paper containers or plastics. or some type of aluminum can return at the grocer or wal-mart would spring up…and freightcarriers would just pick up the scrap and deliver it to processors. profitably.

scott t July 30, 2009 at 7:15 pm

http://www.junkscience.com has what seems to be a rather extensive list of articles and comments on DDT and the harrm or lack of that it has caused. i could find no mention on the site about the murphy individual spoken of at the PERC website (linked above).
http://www.junkscience.com/feb07.html forex. A brief history of the eagle population makes this clear. In 1941, before any DDT was used, 197 bald eagles were counted. In 1960, after 15 years of heavy DDT use, the count had risen to 891.” (Jay Lehr, The Heartland Institute)”
just one example.

i am still unsure about curbside recycling programs.
a landfill in my area was recently closed due to capacity i believe. it kinda smells in the summer but i believe it is geologically sound so no leachate will harm anyone..right next to a water treatment plant in fact and near the citys water supply.

i dont know if city trucks driving hundreds of miles around the city is better than if Alcoa was doing that.
my guess is that with aluminum, one the price gets to a certain level, will either be substituted for waxy paper containers or plastics. or some type of aluminum can return at the grocer or wal-mart would spring up…and freightcarriers would just pick up the scrap and deliver it to processors. profitably.

SailDog July 31, 2009 at 1:31 am

This article and the responses are essentially talking about the symptoms of a single problem: over-population.

Any ecologist will tell you that when an organism over-populates its environment one or two problems arise, particularly if some other factor such as climate change occurs simultaneously. The two problems are shortages of resources and damage to the environment.

I am not necessarily talking about humans in the paragraph above, but some of the terms may sound familiar, even to people on this site. And by the way, this has happened to humans several times in our history (Maya, Easter Island etc).

Maybe we are so clever nowadays that there is absolutely no chance that we are in overshoot now. That would be too Malthusian an explanation surely!

Lemmywinks July 31, 2009 at 12:00 pm

An increasing population is perhaps the great nullifier, counteracting most of our (futile, and often misguided) attempts to preserve the environment. Ecomically, richer people and nations tend to have less children, but use a disproportionally enormous amount of resources.

Malthus was wrong, to the extent that food production couldn’t keep up our population (atleast for now), but our ecological limits ensure that quality of life must be increasingly rationed (or unequally ditributed) as population increases. I get to live a relatively extravagant life, as long the vast majority of the world remains poor.

Despite being the most significant environmental (and human) problem, I’m afraid it will probably be the most ignored. Any “solutions” seem far too draconian for most people’s tastes.

I’m not exactly sure how this ties into Austrian Economics….

SailDog July 31, 2009 at 4:44 pm

“I’m not exactly sure how this ties into Austrian Economics….”

Economics is all about how the allocation of scarce resources works.

The problem is that no economics can explain fully the human response. The explanation that it is, by definition, always rational is inadequate. Why then advertising? Why war?

No economics has any valid explanation for human behaviour at our ecological limit, as has been amply demonstrated since the financial crisis first broke. Nor does it have any valid explanation for managing the commons. In fact, our most important ecological goods of clean air and the hydrological cycle aren’t valued at all!

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