The Dynamics of Ecologic-Economic Systems and the Social Value of the Environment

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT.

The objective of this paper is to emphasize the challenge of ecological scarcity, the value of deliberative democracy for the study of environmental decisionmaking, the democratic legitimacy of environmental policies, the subconscious roots of ecological economics, and the fundamental values of ecological polity. This paper seeks to fill a gap in the current literature by examining different aspects of the conduct and relevance of ecological economics, the impact of environmental effects on the basic structure of the economy, the consequence of differences in environmental awareness, and the environmental aspects of international trade agreements.

JEL Classification: Q57, F18, H23, K32

Keywords: environmental decision-making, ecological economics, reality

1. Introduction

The mainstay of the paper is formed by an analysis of the heterodox foundations of ecological economics, the perception of environmental policy, the role of efficiency in environmental economics, the development of innovative environmental technologies, and the interactions between economic and ecological systems. The purpose of this article is to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between economics and the environment, the meaning and content of ecological economics, the role of all ecosystem components in providing useful services, and complex feedbacks between ecological and economic systems. The paper generates insights about the manifold pressures of ecological scarcity, representations of ecological reality, actual deliberative processes of environmental decision-making, and the nature and causes of economic progress.

2. The Meaning and Content of Ecological Economics

Spash contends that there is a dynamic and evolving interaction between human activity and the environment: ecological economics includes "the limits to wealth creation, the meaning of the "good life," how to achieve well-being individually and socially, ethics and behavior, the epistemology of value, and the psychological and social impact of ostentatious consumption."1 As Spash puts it,

Financial institutions can seize opportunities related to biodiversity and ecosystems services in different ways: early movers can bolster their organization's reputation and create value for marketing practices; building capacity in-house can be beneficial in terms of advisory services for corporate clients; advising clients how to integrate biodiversity and ecosystems services in supply-chain management can lead to cost reductions for clients; and last but not least, financial institutions that understand the new and expanding environmental markets can profit through offering brokerage services, registries, or specialized funds.2

Xepapadeas points out that given the institutional structure of the economies, the rate at which economic agents exploit ecosystems services3 exceeds a desirable level from society's point of view: the challenge of designing economic policy is to develop a system of regulatory instruments or incentive schemes that will affect the behavior of economic agents? Baumgärtner et al. develop a unifying methodology for ecological economics which integrates philosophical considerations on the foundations of ecological economics with operationalization:5 the subject matter of ecological economics is the relationship between the economic and the ecological system, aiming is to provide knowledge for a sustainable management of this relationship.6

3. The Interactions between Economic and Ecological Systems

According to Zografos and Howarth, ecological economics seeks to understand and manage the links between the economy, the biosphere, and the social structures that support and sustain human flourishing.7 Ophuls claims that ecological exploitation has degenerated into the systematic and ruthless abuse of nature, the drive to dominate nature has generated a vicious circle of ecological self-destruction? …