The Economics of Resources, Population and the Environment

Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney, Virginia

Instructor: Townsend, Ken
Subject area: Economics
Department: Economics
Course number: ECON212
Year taught: 1995
Level: Undergraduate

Instructor's Email:

Please note that the copyright for this syllabus is retained by the instructor.

Overview: Within the last thirty years, economists have turned their attention to issues of environmental deterioration that are associated with all economic growth. Generally, environmental economics can be divided into two areas of analysis, i.e., microeconomic and macroeconomic. The microanalysis of the environment is devoted to regulation of natural resource utilization, and to pollution abatement strategies. There exists a rich literature comprising these topics, which we will sample, primarily, through Tom Tietenberg's textbook, Environmental Economics and Policy. Additionally, economists are beginning to consider the impact of continued economic growth within a finite ecosystem, and are developing a literature on the prospect of sustainable economic development. This topic, which comprises economic analysis of population control, nonrenewable resource depletion, and global pollution phenomena, is the subject of Valuing the Earth: Economics, Ecology, Ethics, edited by Daly and Townsend. The overarching purpose of this course is the provision of at least a partial solution to the problem of how to live a good life on a finite earth.

Textbooks: Environmental Economics and Policy by Tom Tietenberg, and Valuing the Earth: Economics, Ecology, Ethics edited by Herman E. Daly and Kenneth N. Townsend.

Grading: Your grade will be based upon your performance on two pledged tests, four short papers, and a pledged, comprehensive, final examination. The relative weighting will be as follows:

Tests 1 [Feb 16] & 2 [Apr 4]
100 points each
Papers 1, 2, 3, 4
25 points each
Final Exam
100 points

Course Outline:
I. Introduction to Environmental Economics: A Collision of Paradigms.
-Tietenberg, Ch. 1 & 2
-Daly & Townsend, Introduction & Introduction to Essays Toward a Steady-State Economy
-Ehrlich & Ehrlich, "Why Isn't Everyone As Scared As We Are?," Ch. 1 in D&T

II. Foundations for the Economic Analysis of Environmental Issues.
-Daly & Townsend, "Ecology: Ultimate Means and Biophysical Constraints," pp. 51-54 in D&T
-Ehrlich, Ehrlich, & Holdren, "Availability, Entropy, and the Laws of Thermodynamics," Ch. 2 in D&T
-Georgescu-Roegen, "The Entropy Law and the Economic Problem," Ch. 3 in D&T
-Georgescu-Roegen, "Selections from 'Energy and Economic Myths'," Ch. 4 in D&T
-Hubbert, "Exponential Growth as a Transient Phenomenon in Human History," Ch. 5 in D&T

III. An Economic Analysis of Population, Resources, and the Environment
-Tietenberg, Ch. 2-19
-Hardin, "The Tragedy of the Commons," Ch. 6 in D&T
-Hardin, "Second Thoughts on "The Tragedy of the Commons," Ch. 7 in D&T

IV. Growth in a Finite Environment
-Tietenberg, Ch. 20-21
-Daly & Townsend, "Economics: Interaction of Ends and Means," pp. 245-248 in D&T
-Daly, "On Economics as a Life Science," Ch. 13 in D&T
-Daly, "Sustainable Growth: An Impossibility Theorem," Ch. 14 in D&T
-Townsend, "Steady-State Economies and the Command Economy," Ch. 15 in D&T
-Boulding, "The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth," Ch. 16 in D&T
-Boulding, "Spaceship Earth Revisited," Ch. 17 in D&T
-Tietenberg, "Using Economic Incentives to Maintain Our Environment," Ch. 18 in D&T
-Daly, "The Steady-State Economy," Ch. 19 in D&T
-Daly, "Postscript," Ch. 20 in D&T

V. The Ethics of Economic Growth and Environmental Deterioration
-Daly & Townsend, "Ethics: The Ultimate End and Value Constraints," pp. 155-158 in D&T
-Schumacher, "The Age of Plenty: A Christian View," Ch. 8 in D&T
-Schumacher, "Buddhist Economics," Ch. 9 in D&T
-Smith, "The Purpose of Wealth: A Historical Perspective," Ch. 10 in D&T
-Cobb, "Ecology, Ethics, and Theology," Ch. 11 in D&T
-Lewis, "The Abolition of Man," Ch. 12 in D&T