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Views Read Edit View history. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. Chapters examine: the benefits and costs of environmental protection, markets and market failure, natural resources as capital assets, and sustainability and economic development. The series presents concise guides to essential subjects in the environmental curriculum, incorporating a problem-based approach to teaching and learning.
Here is a book that will serve both as a superb text for an introductory course and an entertaining and effective introduction for a solo reader who wishes to learn about this growing field of inquiry. Stavins "Succinct and well-written Covers the material with admirable clarity, pertinent examples, and readily available analytics. Field "Offers readers a seamless integration of static and dynamic economic insights for environmental and resources problems; an eminently readable explanation for why economics is central to designing sustainable environmental policies; and a template for understanding the front page environmental issues in the news daily.
Let us begin with a very global perspective. Can you imagine Earth without people, not today's Earth but an Earth that evolved to the present without us?
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If you can contemplate such a world with satisfaction rather than sadness—a world with forests of majestic old-growth trees, with oceans brimming over with fish, with clear skies literally darkened by passing flocks of birds, thriving with an awe-inspiring diversity of life and landscape but without people—then you not only have a vivid environmental imagination but, more to the point, you are ready for your first assignment as an environmental steward.
Imagine further that you live on a different planet that also circles Earth's sun. Though your world has become depleted and polluted, you and your people have decided to leave Earth alone—to protect it and all its beauty and let it evolve in its own uninterrupted way. It is enough to know that it is there in all its richness, protected for all time, wild, whole, and beautiful.
Your assignment of protecting the pristine Earth is almost entirely farfetched, but not completely. Consider that on Sunday, September 21, , the space probe Galileo, having provided scientists extraordinary amounts of new information about Jupiter's moons, was intentionally incinerated in a fiery crash into Jupiter itself. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientists took this unusual step out of concern that organisms from our planet—stowaways on Galileo —might still be alive and therefore might contaminate one of Jupiter's moons, where life might already exist waiting to be discovered.
A decision had been made to leave Jupiter's moons intact and unpolluted. And in the United States today an area the size of California has been set aside as "forever wild" in a magnificent system of national wilderness areas. But now imagine that another decision has been made. Your world has just learned that it is going to be demolished to make room for an intergalactic hyperspatial express route.
When your people complained to the Hyperspace Planning Council about this planned destruction, you were told that the proposed expressway plan had been duly posted in the local planning department in Alpha Centauri and that the time for public comment had long since expired! With apologies to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. As a result of these unfortunate developments, your people—all 6. Your new assignment as environmental steward is to settle Earth in a way that allows all of you to enjoy a decent standard of living while having the smallest possible impact on Earth's environment.
In contemplating this difficult assignment, two things occur to you right away. First, if you are going to sustain Earth's environment, you had better understand how Earth works: how Earth's abundant species interact among themselves and with the landscape; how Earth's great natural cycles of water, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and others work together to sustain life; where the areas of greatest species richness and diversity and also the zones of greatest fragility are located.
If you hope to disturb Earth minimally, then you have first to understand it.
So there is first and foremost a huge science project to be undertaken—the science of environmental sustainability. Second, you see right away that all the nation-states fleeing your planet together must agree at the outset on a set of principles to guide your settlement of Earth, to do so in such a way that the planet will provide a lasting home for you and your people. You're not going to want to undertake such a task more than once!
Where do you begin? One recent effort on the part of international lawyers to elaborate sustainable development principles for nation-states to consider was the New Delhi Declaration of Principles of International Law Relating to Sustainable Development, developed in by the International Law Association. It provides the following:. States must take into account the needs of future generations in determining the rate of use of natural resources.
All relevant actors including States, industrial concerns and other components of civil society are under a duty to avoid wasteful use of natural resources and promote waste minimization policies. The resources of outer space and celestial bodies and of the sea-bed, ocean floor and subsoil thereof beyond the limits of national jurisdiction are the common heritage of humankind.
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