Parts One and Three discussed the economics and ecological perspectives of natural resources and their implications for the economic and the natural world, respectively. In many respects, viewed separately and in abstract, the differences between these two perspectives may appear to be irreconcilable. However, pragmatic considerations require the recognition that both perspectives have relevance when the issue at hand deals with the coexistence of humanity with nature. This is most vividly observed in the economics of the environment—the subject matter of Part Four.
Part Four consists of one chapter, Chapter 5. It deals with the economics of using the environment for the disposal of waste products from human activities—the economics of pollution. This is a relevant economic issue because the environment has a limited though not necessarily fixed capacity to self-degrade waste—which is subject to the natural biological processes of decomposition. This means that the problem of environmental pollution cannot be adequately addressed without a sound understanding of the economics and ecological dimensions of the problem. This need for an integrative approach to ecology and economics should be apparent in the discussions of Chapter 5. In this respect, this chapter provides a first look at how ecological and economic concepts can be jointly used to help us understand and resolve resource problems of vital social concern.