ETHICS AND THE LIMITS OF ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMICS
Environmental change is depicted so far in these pages as an inevitable result of the economic process as currently constituted. Economic growth is rooted in the creation of new industries, and new industries in turn create new environmental problems and politically resist regulations that would resolve those problems. Accepting that this is a reasonable description of the way the world works, the next step is to address questions of valuation. To what extent and in what sense does environmental decline matter, and how far should societies go in protecting the natural environment? Once these questions have been answered, then the practical question of reforming economic institutions can be addressed. The final purpose of this chapter is to address the question of how far societies should go in protecting the natural environment. The goal of subsequent chapters is to address the practical question of how to get there.