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North Castle Books

Green Economics: Confronting the Ecological Crisis
Authored by: Robin Hahnel

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Cloth ISBN: 978-0-7656-2795-7 Paper ISBN: 978-0-7656-2796-4
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Information: 280pp. Tables, figures, bibliography, index.
Publication Date: December 2010.  


Description: This book's pluralistic, non-dogmatic, and committed investigation of the values of ecological sustainability, economic justice, and human dignity provides a balanced analysis of environmental problems and their potential solutions.

Author Robin Hahnel employs techniques of cost-benefit analysis to illuminate where mainstream economics can be helpful, where mainstream economics can be misleading, and where heterodox ideas can provide important insights. He focuses primarily on climate change, reviews the history of climate negotiations, and provides guidelines for an effective, efficient, and fair post-Kyoto treaty.

Selected Contents:


Part I. Toward a New Paradigm

1. Something Happened on the Way to the 21st Century
Full World Economics: Limits to Growth
Full World Economics: Externalities, the Rule Not the Exception
Ecosystem Complexity

2. Cost Benefit Analysis: Beware
The Lure of CBA
CBA and Value Judgments
When People Have Rights
How Power and Wealth Matter
When the Rate of Time Discount Is Determinant
When Continuity Is Unlikely
When Benefits are Hard to Quantify
Not All Uncertainty Is Created Equal

3. What on Earth Is Sustainable Development?
Sustainable Development: A Definition
What is GDP?
What is Wrong with GDP?
Economic Progress
Sustainability as Inter-Generational Equity
When Capital Is Not Fungible
Social vs. Economic Progress
A Workable Definition

Part II. Why the Environment is at Risk

4. Useful Insights from Mainstream Economics
Externalities and Professor Pigou
Public Goods and the Free Rider Problem
The Tragedy of the Commons
Climate Change Preview
Resource Extraction and Rates of Time Preference

5. Where Mainstream Economics Dares Not Go
The Growth Imperative: Beyond Assuming Conclusions
Biases Against Leisure and Collective Consumption
Competition and Absentee Ownership
How Endogenous Preferences Matter
Why the Kuznets Curve Won't Save the Day
How High Pigovian Taxes?
Jobs vs. the Environment, Not!

Part III. Environmental Policy

6. Free Market Environmentalism: Misinterpreting the Coase Theorem
The Coase Theorem: Standard Presentation
There Is No Market!
A Game of Divide the Pie
Perfect Information Is Not Complete Information
Negotiations with Incomplete Knowledge
Multiple Victims: More than transaction Costs
The Myth of Free Market Environmentalism

7. Real World Environmental Policy
A Policy Primer
Incidence, Progressivity, and Rebates
Zoning and Sprawl
Community Management: The Neglected Alternative for CPRs
Permit Markets: Dream or Nightmare?
Keeping Wall Street at Bay
The United States: A Very Special Country Indeed

Part IV. Climate Change

8. A Brief History of Climate Negotiations
The Road to Copenhagen
The Free Rider Problem
Reconciling Effectiveness, Equity, and Efficiency
Kyoto: Myth Versus Reality

9. Criticisms of Kyoto
What Kyoto Got Right
Too Little Too Late
Monitoring Problems
Carbon Trading: The Case For
Carbon Trading: The Case Against
Efficiency Problems
Equity Problems
Enforcement Problems: The Invisible Elephant

10. Beyond Kyoto
Let Science Set the Caps
Caps for All
Equitable Caps: The Greenhouse Development Rights Framework
Cap Net Emissions
A New Sheriff for the Carbon Market
Why Not an International Carbon Tax?
Can It Sell in Brussels, Beijing, and Buffalo?
A Useful Role for Environmental Justice Activists

Appendix to Part IV: Exercise on Climate Control Treaties
About the Author

Comment(s): " Green Economics is an insightful, thought-provoking discussion about getting the economics right for the civilizational challenges that face us this decade and beyond. Hahnel is a master of synthesis, bringing together multiple perspectives to shed light on critical policy debates, and potential paths forward." -- Eban Goodstein, Director, Bard Center for Environmental Policy, Bard College

"Hahnel's new book on the economics of the ecological crisis hits the sweet spot in synthesizing understanding and critique of the main competing paradigms. Hahnel addresses what's right and wrong about neoclassical economics, ecological economics and Marxist economics in their perspectives on ecological issues. By integrating technical, historical and current material, he produces an accessible and informative document valuable for both beginners and more advanced students of environmental policy and politics. This book should find a wide audience both inside and outside academia." -- Paul Baer, Georgia Institute of Technology

Review(s): "Overall, the volume offers a good review and critique of neoclassical methods. ... The most valuable contribution of this book is the section on climate change, which details the history of international climate negotiations; an exercise on climate change treaties can be implemented in the classroom. Recommended. General and undergraduate collections." -- Choice

" Green Economics creatively pulls together diverse thinking from a host of scholars. Hahnel seems to do a great job in presenting his inquiry, providing a useful framework for research that offers tools for understanding problems pertaining to mainstream economic theory, policy, and international negotiations on climate change. This book does offer important insights into economic theory, policy, and negotiations as these relate to the environment. Hahnel's book could prove helpful for advanced undergraduates, graduates, and anyone holding a basic understanding of economics and is interested in an in-depth analysis of environmental economics." -- Journal of Economic Issues

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