America's Renewable Resources: Historical Trends and Current Challenges

By Kenneth D. Frederick; Roger A. Sedjo | Go to book overview

of both an environmentally conscious population and a huge growing economy is an enormous challenge. The interdependencies among the resource systems and the demands placed upon them are complex. Some problems and solutions are local in nature. Other problems are regional or global and will require a breadth of cooperation that has rarely been achieved in the past. For instance, local concerns such as toxic waste disposal and ambient levels of air pollution are now interspersed with regional concerns such as the effects of acid rain on lakes and forests and global issues such as climate change and loss of biological diversity. Incomplete scientific understanding of the nature and implications of these problems, international externalities that arise when pollutants are transmitted across political borders, and the absence of institutions for resolving international resource disputes greatly complicate the task of successfully meeting future resource challenges.

In a United States with a quarter of a billion people, an annual economy of $5 trillion, and constant technological changes, the nature as well as the magnitude of the nation's resource demands have changed dramatically from those of one to two centuries earlier. Although the variety of commodity outputs produced from U.S. renewable resources is still much in demand, the demand for their recreational and environmental outputs appears to have increased even more rapidly. Less relative emphasis is now placed on the direct economic benefits of putting the resources to productive uses; greater weight is being given to protecting free-flowing streams, wetlands, forests, wilderness, and wildlife because of their perceived contribution to the quality of life. The growth of discretionary income and leisure has contributed to an increase in the demand for outdoor recreation, which now is a major claimant on the nation's renewable natural resources. Resources once viewed as obstacles to economic progress until they were tamed or replaced are now recognized as essential to the diversity and quality of the environment and our recreational opportunities.

The challenge, then, is to balance potentially competitive and changing relative demands, both commodity and noncommodity, on our renewable resources, while ensuring that they are managed on a long-term sustainable basis.


References

Anderson Terry L., and P. J. Hill. 1975. "The Evolution of Property Rights." Journal of Law and Economics 18 (April): 163-179.

Brown Lester R., with Erik P. Eckholm. 1974. By Bread Alone. New York: Praeger Publishers for the Overseas Development Council.

Day John C., and Gerald L. Horner. 1987. U.S. Irrigation: Extent and Importance. Agricultural Information Bulletin no. 523, Economic Research Service. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Fedkiw John. 1989. The Evolving Use and Management of the Nation's Forests, Grasslands, Croplands, and Related Resources. A Technical Document Supporting the 1989 USDA Forest Service Assessment. Fort Collins, Colo.: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station.

Frey H. Thomas, and Roger W. Hexem. 1985. Major Uses of Land in the United States: 1982. Agricultural Economic Report no. 535, Economic Research Service. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Lassiter Roy L., Jr. 1980. "Access to and Management of the Wildlife Resources on Large Private Timberland Holdings in the Southeastern United States." College of Business Administration Monograph Series, no 1. Cookeville, Tenn.: Tennessee Technical University.

Ruttan Vernon W., and Yujiro Hayami. 1988. "Induced Technical Change in Agriculture." In Agricultural Productivity. Measurement and Explanation, edited by Susan M. Capalbo and John M. Antle. Washington, D.C.: Resources for the Future.

Solley Wayne B., Charles F. Merk, and Robert R. Pierce. 1988. "Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 1985." U.S. Geological Survey Circular no. 1004. Washington, D.C.: GPO.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. 1974. Our Land and Water Resources. Current and Prospective Supplies and Uses. Washington, D.C.: GPO.

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America's Renewable Resources: Historical Trends and Current Challenges
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Esources for the Future v
  • Contents vii
  • Tables x
  • Figures xi
  • Preface xiii
  • 1: Overview: Renewable Resource Trends 1
  • References 21
  • 2: Water Resources: Increasing Demand and Scarce Supplies 23
  • Notes 71
  • Appendix 2 72
  • References 75
  • 3: Forest Resources: Resilient and Serviceable 81
  • Notes 115
  • Appendix 116
  • References 118
  • 4: Rangeland Resources: Changing Uses and Productivity 123
  • Notes 161
  • Appendix 4 162
  • References 163
  • 5: Cropland and Soils: Past Performance and Policy Challenges 169
  • References 203
  • 6: Wildlife: Severe Decline and Partial Recovery 205
  • Notes 241
  • Appendix 6 242
  • References 245
  • 7: The Growing Role of Outdoor Recreation 249
  • Notes 279
  • Appendix 280
  • References 281
  • About the Authors 283
  • Photo Credits 284
  • Index 285
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