A New History of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
The history of environmental economics, i.e. the history of the integration of environmental concerns (resource depletion, pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss) into the discipline of economics, is quite well known. To name just a few milestones, it usually includes the Physiocrats, Jevons’s coal question, Marshall’s and Pigou’s externalities, Hotelling’s 1931 model, Coase’s theorem, Hardin’s tradgedy of the commons, up to Nordhaus’s DICE model. This history of the economics-environment nexus is, however, not the only one to tell. From the Renaissance to the mid-20th century, many others — economists, naturalists and social theorists — examined the relations between economic and natural dynamics, by formulating proposals that have largely been forgotten. Those ideas, including Linnaeus’s economy of nature, Goethe’s natural philosophy, French and British sanitary reformism, Russian and Soviet ecology, Popper-Lynkeus’s dual theory or 1920s-1930s American land economics, deserve to be rehabilitated at a time when everyone is seeking for solutions to the 21st-century ecological crisis. By looking at other disciplines in the social and natural sciences, we realise that the history of economics relating to environment concerns is much richer (and more unexpected) than we usually think. This presentation will be based on the recently published book ‘A History of Ecological Economic Thought‘ (London & New York: Routledge, 2022 ), co-authored with Marco P. Vianna Franco (KLI Vienna).