The Economics of Resources, Population and the Environment
Instructor: Townsend, Ken
Subject area: Economics
Course number: ECON212
Year taught: 1995
Instructor's Email: KENT@tiger.hsc.edu
Please note that the copyright for this syllabus is retained by the
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
I. Introduction to Environmental Economics: A
Collision of Paradigms.
-Tietenberg, Ch. 1 & 2
-Daly & Townsend, Introduction & Introduction to Essays Toward a
-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
-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
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
-Townsend, "Steady-State Economies and the Command Economy," Ch. 15 in
-Boulding, "The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth," Ch. 16 in
-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
-Cobb, "Ecology, Ethics, and Theology," Ch. 11 in D&T
-Lewis, "The Abolition of Man," Ch. 12 in D&T