PERC’s Executive Director, Dr. Dino Falaschetti, recently visited the George W. Bush Institute, where he sat down with Dr. Eric Bing to discuss how economic growth affects the environment.
This episode features Executive Director Dino Falaschetti speaking at the Florida Insurance Market Summit.
FreedomFest has been coined the "the world's largest gathering of free minds." On July 12, PERC Executive Director Dino Falaschetti presented "Growth is Green: Economic Performance and Environmental Quality," introducing PERC research and highlighting the benefits
As part of PERC’s recent Lone Mountain Forum, “Reconciling Economics and Ecology: The Foundation of Environmental Optimism,” PERC board member Gerry Ohrstrom sat down with science writer Matt Ridley to discuss what these two disciplines might learn from one another. Watch a short video of the interview above, read the full interview below (lightly edited for clarity), or listen to the podcast [approx. 7 mins]. For more PERC Q&As, visit the series archive.Q: Ecology is about preserving resources while economics is about exploiting them. How does one reconcile these two disciplines? A: In a way, I think they are both about emergent properties. Ecology is about the spontaneous order that appears in the world through the interaction of different species — the pattern that you see. And economics is about the same thing in society. So they are both bottom-up fields for me. They’re both about how order emerges from the interaction of individuals.Q: Are you suggesting economics could learn something from Charles Darwin and ecology could learn something from Adam Smith? A: This is one of my crusades, actually. As someone who was an ecologist and nowadays writes a lot about economics, I am fascinated by the parallels. Charles Darwin read Adam Smith, so there is sort of an ancestral connection between the two fields. And there is a lot going on in evolutionary biology and ecology that is very parallel to what is occurring in economics and vice versa. People like F.A. Hayek knew this and went across to evolution to pinch ideas, so I think there is a very fruitful dialogue between ecology and economics.Q: You are the author most recently of a book, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolved. If prosperity continues to evolve aren’t we ultimately going to run out of resources? A: I don’t think so because I think that the amount of resources we have depends upon our ingenuity. In other words, the more prosperous we get, the more frugal we get in our use of resources. Land is a good example: We use less and less land to produce the same amount of food because we’re getting better at it. We’re applying fertilizer or irrigation or whatever it is. The same is true for the amount of steel in a bridge; it is a lot lower than it was 20 years ago, etc.So actually we are shrinking the amount of resources we need to run society at the same time that we are growing them, because there are more of us and we’re becoming more prosperous. I actually think the richer we get in this century, the more comfortable the resource position is going to be because we’re going to be better at recycling, better at finding resources, and better at using them frugally.Q: That is somewhat counterintuitive. The more we use, the more we’re going to have, the more frugal we’re going to be, and the wealthier we are going to be. A: Until now, the problem has been called the Jevons Paradox, which says that the cheaper you make energy, the more people will use it. And that’s true with a lot of resources. But there is evidence that the Jevons Paradox is reaching its limits with some resources. Land is a good example, again. We are actually reforesting land all over the world, we’re taking land out of farming all over the world, because even though there are more of us every year, and even though more of us want to eat chickens and pigs and all these land intensive forms of food, we still, even with this profligacy, can’t keep up with our increasing efficiency, our productivity. So actually we taking land out of agriculture and turning it back to nature reserves. And as the population growth rate falls in this century, I think that process will accelerate.
As part of PERC's Lone Mountain Forum, "Reconciling Economics and Ecology," former PERC Board Member Gerry Ohrstrom sat down with science writer Matt Ridley to discuss the parallels of economics and ecology.
In contrast to the historical ideal of Manifest Destiny, in which the conquest of the land was held to be a biblical right imbued to God’s loyal followers, a contemporary breed of religious practitioners are working to combine faith and ecology in new ways.
Back in 2007, Congress created a biofuels mandate under which oil companies are required to use a minimum amount of cellulosic ethanol each year. The mandate was supposed to encourage the development of a domestic cellulosic ethanol industry. This has not happened.
National Geographic recently launched its "Seven Billion Special Series"--a year-long series on global population.
The link between natural resources, institutions, and economic prosperity is nowhere more apparent than on American Indian reservations.
The New York Times tries to provide some perspective to the renewed debate over the economic effect of envir
Yesterday afternoon I attended a lecture by Michael Greenstone, the 3M Professor of Environmental Economics and former chief economist of the Council of Economic Advisers during the first year of the Obama Admi
Mary Ellen Harte and Anne Ehrlich write,"Unsustainable population levels are depleting resources and denying a decent future to our descendants.
This week we sat down with Claire Priest, Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Her expertise is in the area of property and American legal history. Her current book project is titled Creating an American Property Law, and examines the evolution of property and inheritance law in America from 1650 to 1820 through the lens of credit and financial markets, slavery, and debtor/creditor relations.Claire visited PERC as a 2011 Lone Mountain Fellow. We thank her for taking the time to answer our questions. For more of PERC’s Q&A series, visit the archived Q&As here.Q: Your book project provides a new account of the evolution of property law in early America. What will your book emphasize that other historical scholarship has not focused on?The role of property in historical accounts has generally related to the ideological revolution taking place during the Founding Era of the United States. The political leaders of the Founding Era believed that dismantling vestiges of aristocracy was crucial to the success of a republican society. They emphasized the need to make property in land dynamic and available in the market, rather than having the legal system protect stable landholding by an aristocracy. Historians have traced the path of republican views from the colonial era forward, to demonstrate the republican underpinnings of the Revolution.I focus on a wider range of issues. In my view, the central force shaping property law in early America from the earliest years of colonization was the desire to use land and other assets, such as slaves, as collateral for the purpose of obtaining credit. The colonists brought English law and legal traditions with them but reformed those laws to adapt to the new conditions present in the colonies. Reforming the law to encourage credit markets was a major trend. One reform was to legally define land as a “chattel” commodity when creditors’ interests were involved. This allowed more stream-lined processes to be used when creditors tried to seize debtors’ land in the case of default on a debt. In addition, in contrast to England, in the American colonies, creditors were given legal priority to land over the landowner’s heirs during inheritance proceedings. Colonial courts and land recording offices also innovated by making title interests and the claims against those interests publicly accessible. Credit markets in the American colonies were robust.Unfortunately, strong credit markets encouraged the expansion of slavery, a form of labor that depended on upfront payments of money. Slaves were often purchased on credit and themselves became a primary form of collateral in credit agreements. I believe this story is very important to our history.Q: How did the emergence of these laws and institutions relating to property in early America affect the way we view property rights and law in modern America?A: We take it for granted in America that credit is easy to come by and that we will receive financing for purchase of assets from cars to homes. Filing a financing statement to use chattel goods as security is inexpensive and easy. In many countries, however, the institutions and courts are costly and time-consuming to navigate. I have been interested in how history might explain the vastly different legal environments around the world today.I also think the history is closely related to the insights of PERC: being able to use property rights to achieve conservation outcomes requires a system that is flexible. To give a prominent example, markets in carbon credits are now well-established in our country. Where did the flexibility in the system come from that allows trading in a good like carbon emissions?
Is seven billion too many people on earth or not enough?
Cap and trade, a favorite of statists and even many economists who otherwise are not statists, continues to be touted as a great sc
This chart from The Economist is worth staring at for a while:
Don't miss PERC senior fellow Bruce Yandle’s article in the latest issue of Regulation magazine.
In 1965, the American economist Kenneth Boulding popularized the phase “Spaceship Earth” expre
The conventional view is that the premium paid for fair trade coffee results in higher wages and better living standards for coffee farmers in the developing world.
In honor of Earth Day, Reason.tv offers this video featuring Ron Bailey (a 2010 PERC Julian Simon fellow):
Last Saturday night (March 26) was Earth Hour. A time that, presumably, billions of people turn out their lights to support energy conservation.
Paul Ehrlich has had quite a career.
By Matt Ridley | Paradoxically, economics has done more for nature than ecology has.