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The economists perspective of the population in the world today

He has experience in the area of Economics, with emphasis on Agrarian and Natural Resources Economies, with a special focus on the following subjects: Introduction This paper aims to provide a definition of sustainable development from an ecological economics perspective.

Since the term emerged in the 1970s under the name of eco-development, its most accurate definition has been the object of controversy Veiga, 2005. To be sustainable, development must be economically sustainable or efficientsocially desirable or inclusive and ecologically prudent or balanced. The first two criteria were present in the debate on economic development started in the post-war period.

The third is new. To the first, sustained economic growth1 was open as a possibility to all countries, being a necessary and sufficient condition for social inclusion. To the second, on the contrary, economic growth and its benefits were for the few, the core capitalist countries. Marxists and structuralists disagreed among themselves, however, about the causes of the fact.

  • In the case of global warming, the policies proposed by the Kyoto Protocol followed this analytical framework;
  • Introduction This paper aims to provide a definition of sustainable development from an ecological economics perspective;
  • Precaution applies when there is uncertainty;
  • Specifically, it entails facing, for example, the issue of employment, inequality and incentive to technological innovation;
  • To the first, sustained economic growth1 was open as a possibility to all countries, being a necessary and sufficient condition for social inclusion.

The environmental criterion proposed by eco-developmentalists was acceptable to these currents, but the way they integrated it to the other criteria put them in a unique position in this debate. The goal of the second section of this paper is to analyze this trajectory of formulation and evolution of the concept of eco-development.

The emergence of the global warming issue in the 1990s had a major impact on the debate about sustainable development in two fundamental aspects: Regarding the first aspect, the notion of prudence gives way to the most appropriate and accurate concept of Precaution, which has been raised to the condition of principle and was formally adopted at the Rio 92 Conference. The issue of ecosystem uncertainty in the case of global warming and its mitigation based on the Precautionary Principle as proposed by the Kyoto Protocol highlights the second aspect mentioned, since the rapid reduction of emissions is costly.

The concept of sustainable development in its most recent disguise of green economy reflects this problem in that it incorporates the need for adopting sustainability parameters while taking into account the environmental risk. The third section of the paper presents the theoretical foundations that justify the position of the mainstream rejection of the conclusions of the Club of Rome report and of optimism about the ability to overcome only relative environmental limits to economic growth.

This optimism stems from two assumptions: The environmental problem is seen primarily as a market failure due to the nature of natural resources such as air and water as public goods, thus generating a negative externality problem.

State action is necessary only to correct this market failure, either through privatization or the pricing of natural resources.

By 2060, this country will have the world's largest population

Once these failures have been resolved to ensure the correct economic signals of the relative scarcity of these environmental services, the dynamic of intertemporal allocation of resources based on cost-benefit assessments would tend to be processed efficiently, with no problems such as uncertainty and risk of irreversible losses.

It must be said, however, that not everyone in this current has accepted these logical conclusions based on the assumptions made, considering that there are many situations in which one should opt for the preservation of a given ecosystem due to its the economists perspective of the population in the world today and irreplaceability.

In the fourth and fifth sections the paper elaborates on the argument for defining sustainable development from an ecological economics perspective. In the fourth section, initially the criticism of environmental economics assumptions enables developing a concept of ecological sustainability that does not exist in the various definitions of sustainable development.

It is not possible to increase indefinitely the efficient use of natural resources second law of thermodynamicsand capital is essentially complementary to natural resources, which are represented especially by complex ecosystems that are vital for human survival. From these assumptions, the central issue for ecological economics is how to get the economy to work while accepting the existence of these limits. Two action plans need to be considered: Regarding the first action plan, in the case of ecological economics, reversing the rationale behind the decision of environmental economics would suffice: Setting limits to the use of natural resources raises the problem of their distribution among the various actors, which should be based on the criterion of justice.

Finally, the market will be responsible for the efficient allocation of investments within the framework of these ecological and social constraints. As for the second action plan, which is the topic of the fifth and final section, the paper briefly examines the two problems to be addressed for achieving zero growth: The technical solution to the first problem is especially the formulation of macroeconomic policies, an environmental macroeconomics.

Specifically, it entails facing, for example, the issue of employment, inequality and incentive to technological innovation. The legitimacy for implementing these policies depends on the solution to the second problem, the one about consumer expectations that legitimates economic growth policies. However, this necessary altruism that legitimizes zero growth policies can be enhanced by the growing realization that the current level of material comfort is more than enough, and that continuing growth efforts will produce more harm than good.

A definition of sustainable development is therefore proposed. The concept of sustainable development The concept of sustainable development emerged under the name of ecodevelopment2 in the 1970s.

It resulted from the effort to find a third alternative path to those that put developmentalists on the one side and advocates of zero growth on the other. The first United Nations Conference on Environment held in Stockholm in 1972 was the stage of this polarization that tended to generate deadlocks. In turn, the vast majority of countries remained poor, with problems to start a process of sustained economic growth. Until then the great controversy about economic development put on the one side those who saw the scenario of global inequality as a problem of historical stages in the process of economic growth, i.

On the other side were those who saw both international inequality and national inequality concentrated income distribution in poor countries as a result of some form of perverse articulation between rich and poor countries for the benefit of the first and of a minority, a small elite, in the latter. In other words, inequality stemmed primarily from exogenous factors related to the form of unfavorable inclusion of poor countries in the international division of labor. To the representatives of the second current there were no theoretical reasons to justify defending the lack of environmental limits to economic growth.

Services on Demand

The problem was also in the socio-economic implications of this idea, but related to the perpetuation of exclusion in favor of central capitalist countries. According to the Cocoyok Declaration 1974 ,9 the population boom would be the result of the lack of all types of resources, which in turn would lead this population to overuse the land, water and other natural resources.

The responsibility of industrialized countries to the problems of underdevelopment would lie in over-consumption. They would have to reduce their consumption levels and disproportionate participation in the pollution of the biosphere.

The colonial system would have concentrated the land suitable for agriculture in the hands of a social minority and European settlers. Consequently, large masses of the original population were expelled and marginalized, and forced to use less suitable land.

However, efficient economic growth is seen as a necessary but not sufficient condition for improving human welfare: In the case of poor countries, this set of policies would provide an opportunity for them to start a process of sustained economic growth, distributing income and avoiding repeating the trajectory of environmental impacts of developed countries.

Because of their assumptions and propositions, eco-developmentalists have taken a unique position in relation to other currents under debate: Similarly to eco-developmentalists, the authors of the report considered that the environmental risk of economic growth should be taken seriously, a concern that was expressed in the motto defining what should be understood as sustainable development: The second UN Conference on the environment took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the same year in which an update of the first Club of Rome report was published ratifying the key conclusions of the original document.

Interestingly, twenty years after the first conference, it had become clearer that technical progress - the magic wand of optimistic developmentalists - had been much more efficient in addressing the issue of the environment as a a provider of raw materials than in confronting the issue of the environment as b a provider of ecosystem services: This second fact b is reflected in the updated report of the Club of Rome, whose main highlight is the destruction of ecosystems and its implications in the carrying capacity of the planet, to the extent that ecosystems as a whole provide the main ecosystem service, i.

The risk of depletion of non-renewable raw materials, especially oil, pales before this. In any event, the conclusion of the analysis remains the same: High income concentrations could persist despite years of strong economic growth, because of structural problems that could only be solved through more active State intervention.

  1. In other words, inequality stemmed primarily from exogenous factors related to the form of unfavorable inclusion of poor countries in the international division of labor.
  2. Precaution applies when there is uncertainty. For those, policies like the ones advocated by UNEP 2011 and by eco-developmentalists in general are the ones that should be implemented.
  3. A definition of sustainable development is therefore proposed.
  4. In the fourth section, initially the criticism of environmental economics assumptions enables developing a concept of ecological sustainability that does not exist in the various definitions of sustainable development.

These facts have contributed to strengthen the position of advocates of the concept of sustainable development: The emergence of the global warming issue in the 1990s, however, ultimately brougth the debate to a new level in relation to two key aspects: Regarding the first aspect, the the economists perspective of the population in the world today of prudence gives way to the most appropriate and accurate concept of Precaution, raised to the condition of principle - formally adopted at the Rio 92 Conference.

Prudence applies to situations of risk in which the distribution of probabilities is known. Precaution applies when there is uncertainty. In the first case, safety procedures can be defined with probable margins of precision, thus enabling maintaining a given course of action.

In the second case there is only one safety procedure: In the case of global warming and its confrontation based on the Precautionary Principle as proposed by the Kyoto Protocolthe issue of ecosystem uncertainty highlights the second aspect, since the rapid reduction of emissions is costly.

Policies that supposedly addressed the risk of environmental losses in a proper way, based on prudence. In turn, the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC have reinforced the arguments of environmentalists in favor of stronger action to reduce emissions. The Stern Review 2006 represented something of an effort to respond to the recurring deadlock: Stern criticizes the gradualism of Nordhaus, considering the risk of important environmental losses if the temperature rises above that limit.

His decision rule is that of environmental efficacy and cost-effectiveness. To him, gradualist models such as that of Nordhaus do not reckon a number of impacts and, in particular, catastrophic impacts. Regarding the latter, Stern works with subjective probability distributions although, as pointed out by Vale 2011, p. The explicit concern about intergenerational distribution and justice leads him also to adopt a very low, close to zero discount rate.

In contrast, however, he structures these policies based on a framework of macroeconomic scenarios where the environmental costs of inaction are estimated. In the recent report of the United Nations Environment Program on Green Economy UNEP, 2011the fundamental eco-developmental premise is explicitly stated,16, but similar to the Stern Review it is included in a stricter macro-economic analytical framework.

Two key aspects of this analytical scheme deserve to be highlighted: Policy proposals are a mix of command and control policies and with policies based on economic instruments. In relation to the first, an aggressive environmental regulation is also recommended to anticipate future scarcity. Developing countries have specificities - such as large portions of the population still living on forestry activities and small subsistence agriculture - that need to be addressed through specific policies.

The technological revolution of the green economy would be different for three reasons: This position is based on two premises: In turn, natural ecosystems that are inevitably lost due to human the economists perspective of the population in the world today would be easily replaced by capital. It all happens as if the economic system could move smoothly from a resource base to another as each of them is exhausted, with scientific and technological progress as the key variable to ensure that the replacement process will not limit economic growth, thus guaranteeing its sustainability in the long term.

At the limit, as provocatively stated by Solow 1974 ,21 the economy could get along without natural resources! In the literature this idea became known through the concept of weak sustainability. According to this current, the incentive mechanisms through which this indefinite expansion of environmental limits to economic growth occurs should be especially market mechanisms. In the case of environmental goods traded in markets material and energy inputsthe growing shortage of a particular good would translate easily into an increase in its price, thus leading to the introduction of innovations that enable saving it eco-efficiencyand, at the limit, replacing it with another more abundant resource.

In the case of environmental services generally not traded in the market due to their nature as public goods air, water, global biochemical life support cycles, ability to absorb waste, etc. Correcting this failure requires interventions, so that the willingness to pay for these environmental services can be expressed as their scarcity increases. The explanation for this would be that in the early stages of the economic development process, increasing environmental degradation is accepted as a negative, but inevitable, side effect.

However, after a certain level of economic well-being, people become more sensitive and willing to pay for the improvement of environmental quality, which would have led to the introduction of institutional innovations and organizational measures to correct market failures arising from the public nature of most environmental services. These institutional and organizational innovations, in turn, guarantee a pace of introduction of technical innovations in production processes capable of compensating for the pressure of economic activities on the environment Grossman and Krueger, 1995.

The optimal solution would be that which could somehow create the conditions for the free operation of market mechanisms: The first would entail privatizing resources such as water, air etc.

Collective action through the State is necessary only to correct market failures that occur because most environmental services are public goods air, water, ability to absorb waste, etc. Once these failures have been resolved to ensure the correct economic signals of the relative scarcity of these environmental services, the dynamics of the intertemporal allocation of resources based on cost-benefit assessments would tend to be processed efficiently, with no problems of uncertainty and risk of irreversible losses.

Not everyone, however, has accepted that this logical conclusion based on the assumptions made.