Conservation and Economic Efficiency: An Approach to Materials Policy

By Talbot Page; African Diaspora Studies Institute | Go to book overview
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as done above and of making the preceding remarks is to establish a context in which the important policy issues can be formalized explicitly.


Motes and Beam-motes

The conservation criterion, or at least, its more ordinary manifestation as a sustainable yield criterion, is often criticized on the grounds that it does not maximize the present value of the yield's benefits. This reasoning is surely wrong. It is no more appropriate to conclude that the sustainable yield criterion is invalid because it does not satisfy the present value criterion than it is appropriate to conclude that the present value criterion is invalid because it does not satisfy the sustainable yield criterion. One cannot use one criterion to bludgeon another. They are on the same logical level. The most one can say at this point is that the two criteria conflict; they imply different states of the world.

One can judge a criterion, however, by its implications and by the conditions under which it leads to desirable consequences. We have seen that it is possible to view the natural resource sector much as a single productive asset, even including "nonrenewable" virgin materials. No criterion emerges as clearly superior to all others. But it is clear that there is a world of difference between the statements, "The earth belongs to the living" and "The earth belongs in usufruct to the living."


Notes
1.
Harold J. Barnett and Chandler Morse, Scarcity and Growth: The Economics of Natural Resource Availability ( Baltimore, Md., Johns Hopkins University Press for Resources for the Future, 1963) p. 72.
2.
Barnett and Morse, Scarcity and Growth, p. 50.
3.
Barnett and Morse, Scarcity and Growth, p. 96.
4.
Gifford Pinchot, The Fight for Conservation ( New York, Doubleday, 1910) cited in Barnett and Morse, Scarcity and Growth, p. 76.
5.
Barnett and Morse, Scarcity and Growth, pp. 80-81.
6.
Barnett and Morse, Scarcity and Growth, p. 81.
7.
Barnett and Morse, Scarcity and Growth, p. 86, fn. 11.
8.
Henry Clepper, Professional Forestry in the United States ( Baltimore, Md., Johns Hopkins University Press for Resources for the Future, 1971) pp. 135-136.
9.
Neal Potter and Francis T. Christy Jr., Trends in Natural Resource Commodities: Statistics of Prices, Output, Consumption, Foreign Trade, and Employment in the United States, 1870-1957 ( Baltimore, Md., Johns Hopkins University Press for Resources for the Future, 1962).
10.
Mancur Olson, Introduction" to "The No-Growth Society, symposium issue of Daedalus, Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Fall 1973) pp. 8-9.
11.
It is interesting to note a parallel shift in perspective in work done at Resources for the Future and its predecessor, the Paley Commission. During World

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