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Environmental Economics: a Reflection Essay

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Environmental Economics: A Reflection
Ronald D. McKinney
American Public University

Reflecting on the lessons learned in EVSP 502 Environmental Economics resulted in the realization that environmental problems and their solution have many facets.   One of those facets is economics and all that infers.   Starting this class my viewpoint of economics was narrow.   There are costs and there are benefits.   The question then was how does economics relate to the environment beyond just what is this going to cost.   I had not spent much time in thinking about this relationship but this class was an opportunity for a closer look. It became clear that the issue of environmental economics, besides having many facets, was also complex and subjective.   We often think of economics as being about numbers or money, however, it is much more than that. I was surprised to see the relationship with ethics as we dealt with valuation.   The writings in the forum illustrated this relationship perfectly as the classmates made their individual cases for what they thought had value economically and what tools to use in order to decide this valuation; contingent valuation, willingness to pay or accept and use versus non-use.   As we progressed through various topics and exercises, the inherent complexity of economics began to make sense.   The study of valuation, ethics, cost-benefit and income effects built a foundation for understanding the following concepts; resource management, taxation, trade and the politics of economic environmental decision-making.

Concept and Analysis
Keohane (2007) and Olmstead stated that while economists do look at things from a monetary perspective they also interpreted value as being in the eye of the beholder.   I would agree and go even further in saying that valuation is the foundation of environmental economics.   Without meaningful, accurate valuation the task of environmental problem-solving is nearly impossible.   At the very least it is a...

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