All that the earth provides: the economics of resources
In the previous chapter we considered, from a theoretical perspective, whether the process of economic growth faces any limits. This chapter and the following one will examine two specific forms of limitation. In this chapter, we will address the issues of inputs to the production process, and how, on a limited planet, we should approach the issue of limited natural resources. The following chapter will address the other end of the production process – the issue of how we deal with the wastes it produces. Section 10.1 explains how scarcity is a central guiding concept in orthodox economic theory, linking the availability of resources to their market prices. Section 10.2 draws insights from environmental economics, extending the theory of the relationship between prices and scarcity by considering whether creating markets can help to preserve one particular scarce resource: the rainforests. Section 10.3 provides a critical view of this commodification of natural resources. Section 10.4 provides another take on scarcity, by economists who consider that the earth is abundant and that it is our market-based perceptions that are limited. Finally, Section 10.5 offers a case-study of different approaches to protecting the world’s fisheries.