The week that was #3

Another week has flown by, and another shot at reading recommendations. Here goes:

  • David Pannell’s ‘Thinking like an economist’ series. David has recently compiled his (in excess of 200) Pannell Discussions into blog format. There’s a lot of great content to churn through, and this week I managed to read parts 1, 2 and 3. I can especially appreciate Thinking like an economist 3: What is your objective?  – as I’m interested in environmental decision making, it’s extremely difficult (and likely counter productive) to begin trying to identify priorities for conservation without first specifying an objective – preferably one which can be quantified. There is still a lot of work out there which tries to identify areas or actions of ‘importance’ for biodiversity, without ever defining what it means to be ‘important’, or what the constraints or decision variables (actions to take) might be be. Anyway, I digress…
  • Rethinking the Growth Imperative – a very interesting critique of the current global growth paradigm –  perhaps surprisingly, written by Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff  – via Project Syndicate and Green Mycelium (which is another blog you should check out)
  • Coal seam gas good…until you measure the methane – via The Conversation. Again, I’m still catching up on articles (this one’s from December last year), but this is still very topical given current and continuing events.
  • Why you are not sticking to your new year’s resolutions – via The Thesis Whisperer. Some really handy tips to stick to your academic new years resolutions – I’ve cut down my to-read list, only for it to balloon in size already… I like the idea of reading one paper and writing 250 words per day.

Is there any evidence that the environment benefits from GDP growth?

Papers:
  • Dietz, S., and W. N. Adger. 2003. Economic growth, biodiversity loss and conservation effort. Journal of Environmental Management 68:23-35.   http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0301-4797(02)00231-1
    A sobering  analysis of biodiversity loss, economic growth and the impact of protected areas on stemming the tide.  In a test for an environmental Kuznet’s curve, they find a (relatively weak) positive relationship between country level GDP per capita and % land in protected areas, but despite this find no evidence that outcomes for biodiversity improve with increasing wealth – rather, species richness declines as GDP increases.  It concludes:  “This paper has shown that biodiversity conservation is, indeed, one of the class of environmental problems where economic growth on its own is unlikely to ever result in a turning point towards a more sustainable and secure environmental future.”

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