Environmental Economics

Valuing Nature?

“Nature is like love: one of the most beautiful things on earth,
but if you put a price on it, it becomes prostitution.”
Nele Marien

Every time somebody converts a hectare of forest into a hectare of agricultural land, they have—implicitly or explicitly—compared the value of standing forest to the value of agricultural land, arriving at the conclusion that agricultural land is more valuable to them. Read More »

INESAD News: Five Sustainable and Fascinatingly Fun Pest Management Techniques

Development RoastINESAD’s Ioulia Fenton has spent the summer researching food and agriculture issues with Worldwatch Institute‘s Nourishing the Planet (NtP) project. Here is her latest article featured today by NtP:

Five Sustainable and Fascinatingly Fun Pest Management Techniques.

According to a recent report by the Pesticide Action Network, the use of chemical pesticides in agriculture is costly to human health and biodiversity: the effects of excessive exposure range from skin and eye irritation to disruptions of the immune system and death by poisoning. It is also increasingly expensive for farmers who have to keep up with pests’ natural ability to adapt to chemical formulas and resilience. But many farmers are abandoning chemicals for more natural methods that are not only chemical-free, but are also fascinating and fun.

Read More »

Graphics: Are Businesses Really Ready for Carbon Accounting?

Many economic mechanisms have been put forward to try to better manage natural resources. The UN Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD), for example, aims to put a financial value on the carbon stored in rainforests and incentivise developing countries to maintain them. Other systems in place give tax credits and other incentives to businesses for becoming more sustainable, but how ready are they to count their own carbon emissions? This is the question that Epicor asked in a survey of almost 1,000 companies from across the world earlier this year. The result? An inforgraphic that reveals fascinating facts like 58 percent of businesses had never even heard of carbon accounting: Read More »

Commercializing Nature?

The Bolivian government has taken a strong stance against the international REDD+ mechanism, mainly because it reduces forests to a simple commodity to be traded in international carbon emissions markets. This would not only imply trading an invisible product (CO2 emissions), but – even more complicated – trading the lack of the invisible product (reduced CO2 emissions). Keeping track of the lack of this invisible product is so obviously difficult that both transaction costs and corruption associated with an international REDD+ mechanism would likely be enormous, thus leaving few benefits for the forest, the forest communities, and the global climate. Read More »

Guest Roast: Mining Companies’ Violations In Developing Countries—Who Is Responsible?

By Grahame Russel

Increasingly, over the past few years, information has been published about serious human rights violations and health and environmental harms being caused in Guatemala by (mainly) Canadian mining company operations: Goldcorp Inc., Radius Gold Inc., Tahoe Resources Inc., Hudbay Minerals, and others.

It is not possible to understand how these violations and harms occur, and will continue to occur, without understanding the political context.  Read More »

“You Can’t Fire Your Land”: How the Humble Farmer Dethrones Free Market Economics

One of the primary lessons in Economics 101 is that of the rules of supply and demand in a market economy and their relationship to price. The basics being that the price of a product will adjust depending on the level of demand and level of supply in any given market and will eventually settle on an equilibrium when supply balances with demand.

Now we don’t need to go into all the details, as, for the sake of argument, we are interested in only one theoretical law governing this relationship. It states that should the market for a particular good get over-saturated with supply, then the price of this good will keep going down until a point where producers will stop making it or scale down their operations as they will no longer be as profitable. Read More »

INESAD News: “Helping Poor Children Avoid Poor Diets”

Today, The Statesman in Austin, Texas, United States published a op-ed co-written by Danielle Nierenberg, Director at Worldwatch Institute‘s Nourishing the Planet (NtP) project and INESAD‘s Ioulia Fenton, who is spending the summer researching food and agriculture issues with NtP.

Helping Poor Children Avoid Poor Diets, The Statesman, Monday, August 13, 2012.

It’s almost time for kids to go back to school. But for many children in Austin, this means a return to terribly unhealthy school lunches fried chicken, pizza pockets, corn dogs, and desserts loaded with high-fructose corn syrup that jeopardize the health and well-being of America’s next generation. This needs to change. Read More »

Guest Roast: A Native Perspective on Gold Mining in Guatemala

By Cathy Gerrior

My name is Cathy Gerrior. My spirit name is white turtle woman and I am a Mi’kmaq Elder and Ceremony Keeper from TurtleIsland.  I was given an opportunity to visit Guatemala by a group called Breaking the Silence, an organization who works towards justice and fair treatment of the Mayan People in Guatemala.

We joined a delegation in Guatemala led by Grahame Russell with the Rights Action group to learn the truth about Canadian mining companies and what they are doing to our Mayan brothers and sisters in Latin America.  Grahame was very thorough in his teachings around this issue.  At one point I asked him if this work was his passion.  He thought about it for a moment and replied Read More »

Can We Use Trade to Make Us Healthier? A Case Study From Mexico

U.S. exports obesity epidemic to Mexico was the conclusion of a recent Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) report. The study looks at the health consequences of the North American Free Trade agreement (NAFTA), a tri-lateral trade liberalization agreement between Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. that came into effect in 1994. The researchers tracked the increases of U.S. exports into Mexico that followed NAFTA’s implementation. These included such items as soft drinks, snack foods, processed meats, and dairy, as well as raw inputs such as corn and soybeans that are used in the food processing industry. They then linked the rises to increased consumption of unhealthy foods and, thusly, to an incremental rise in the nation’s climbing obesity epidemic. Read More »

No We Didn’t Have This Green Thing In Our Day

“There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you”.

J.K. Rowling  2008 Harvard Commencement Speech (available as transcript and video)

Anyone interested in conservation or other environmental issues will undoubtedly put at least a considerable chunk of the responsibility for our current predicament onto our parents’ and grandparents’ generations. Although there may be some truth in that, if we are really honest with ourselves, few find it hard to live up to environmental principles today – we all enjoy the conveniences of the world we condemn. Read More »


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