Ecology Essay Sample
The Links Between Ecology and Economy
Ecology Essay: Introduction
In the last decade, the rapid development of research aimed at linking the natural environment and the economy. The increased interest and the urgency of approaching a sustainable relationship between the socio-economic system and the natural environment involve a wide range of disciplines, from basic natural sciences such as physics and chemistry to those dealing with social structures, economic and juridical considerations as well as cultural and ethical perspectives. It would be a too formidable task to try to cover all these recent research trends. To a large extent, constrained by our pre-analytic visions, we will instead concentrate on some of the new ideas and essential perspectives on environmental management that have evolved, particularly in the interface between ecological and economic sciences. This paper is divided into two concepts that can be applied to both disciplines. It is easy to understand financial concepts in terms of ecologic concepts and vice versa.
Ecological and Economic Perspectives on Environment
The disciplines of ecology and economics have many things in common. Both of them attempt to understand and predict the behavior of complex interconnected systems in which both individual behavior and large-scale flows of energy and material are essential. The two disciplines use similar quantitative tools such as input-output analysis, simulation, and maximizing calculus. They share identical concepts such as competition and specialization, and they are both concerned with open systems having one significant external input, energy (or exergy) that is not reusable- sunlight for ecosystems and mainly non-renewable fuels for economic systems. Both are structured by the decisions of individuals, who function in the context of hierarchies of group organizations, interacting with their environment (Bernstein, 1981; Harris, 1985). Cost-benefit analysis can be applied to both of these disciplines.
Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA)
This section focuses on project level analysis using cost-benefit analysis (CBA) and is concerned with the physical (versus the social) environment: air, climate, land, water, and vegetation. From an economic point of view, the physical environment is a source of raw materials and energy, a source of amenities (such as recreation, beauty) and an assimilator of waste from consumption and production processes.
When spelling out the need for economic analysis, the point of departure is the neoclassical model of an economy with complete and perfectly competitive markets (Costanza, 1984). This is not because this model is a good description of the real world, but because it is an analytically clear bench-mark. Deviations from this model can be grouped into two categories: market failures and policy failures.
Major Steps of CBA
The core method for environmental, economic evaluation is cost-benefit analysis (CBA) (Cooper, 1981). This is defined here as a process containing the following components:
The core method for environmental-economic evaluation is cost-benefit analysis (CBA) (Cooper, 1981). This is defined here as a process containing the following components:
Identification and quantification of social advantages (benefits) and disadvantages (costs) in terms of a standard monetary unit.
Benefits and costs are primarily valued based on individuals' willingness to pay for goods and services. This goes for both market and non-market items (cars as well as clean air).
The flow of benefits minus costs over time are brought together into a single value "today" (net present worth).
Unquantified effects (intangibles) are described as qualitatively and compared with quantified values.
Discussion of policy implications.
The Life-Supporting Environment
It is true that the human species, which for its survival, is dependent on life forms in lower levels, while at the same time, it modifies the life-supporting environment like the animals. The life-support environment has been defined as that part of the earth that provides the physiological necessities of life, namely food and other energies, mineral nutrients, air, and water. The life-support ecosystem is the functional term for the environment, organisms, processes, and resources interacting to provide these physical necessities (Barbier, 1989). The same conditions can be applied to the economy like the other concepts.
Ecology Essay: Conclusion
In the last decade, the rapid development of research aimed at linking the natural environment and the economy. The disciplines of ecology and economics have many things in common. Both of them attempt to understand and predict the behavior of complex interconnected systems in which both individual behavior and large-scale flows of energy and material are essential. It is easy to understand economic concepts in terms of ecologic concepts and vice versa.
Barbier, E.B., 1989. Economics, Natural-Resource Scarcity and Development: Conventional and Alternative Views. Earthscan, London.
Bernstein, B.B.1981. Ecology and Economics: Complex Systems in Changing Environments. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 12:309-330.
Costanza, R. 1984. Natural Resource Valuation and Management: Toward an Ecolgical Economics. In: Jansson, A.M. ( ed. ). Integration of Economy and Ecology: An Outlook for the Eighties. Proceedings from the Wallenberg Symposia. Asko Laboratory, Stockholm University, Stockholm. pp. 7-18.
Cooper, C.1981. Economic Evaluation and the Environment. Hodder and Stoughton, London.