MANAGING THE ENVIRONMENT: An Economic Primer by Claude F. & William C. Ramsay Anderson


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An economist and a physicist, both involved with private systems-analysis firms, examine the ecology crisis as an economic problem. ""Well, it seems to us that economics is what really counts, when people get down to essentials."" This might mean that economics itself is an ecological science -- studying expanding human capacity to tap natural resources through increasing productivity -- but the authors explain that by ""essentials"" they mean hard cash. First they posit a freshman model of a classical economy: prices allocate goods and services, scarcity and usefulness determine prices. Society must decide within the framework of this fixed equilibrium to forego certain goods in order to meet the price costs of a clean environment. ""Until individual consumers practice austerity or asceticism,"" pollution and glut will continue. The authors thus aggressively hedge the problem of underproduction and underconsumption on a world scale, and deny the possibility of getting more social wealth with less pollution through technological and scientific innovation: e.g. fusion generators producing more energy with greater safety. In fact they suggest opposite conclusions. The price of water is viewed in terms of marginal utility -- make extra gallons more expensive, so the public will be more economical in consuming extra units. Thus the book's message boils down to ""people pollute, people must pay.

Pub Date: June 16th, 1972
Publisher: Basic Books