Political Economy of Ecology

  • David R. KellerEmail author
Part of the Studies in Global Justice book series (JUST, volume 19)


The productive activities that constitute our material existence create the possibility of culture. Morality, custom, law, science and religion have an economic base and can be largely explained in terms of features of the base. Further, no economic system exists without an ecological foundation: the productive activities that constitute our material existence in turn depend upon an environmental matrix. Economic activity is a social function, thus political life and economic life are intertwined to form a political economy. Two alternative forms of industrial political economy are possible, conforming to two different models: (1) the Expansionary Model and (2) the Stationary-State Model. Because it requires perpetual growth, the Expansionary Model inherently contradicts the practical finitude of nature, and so does violence to nature, thereby also producing social injustice, especially to future generations of citizens. By contrast, the Stationary-State Model recognizes the practical finitude of nature and respects the value of the whole and its parts. This model maintains the functional integrity of biotic systems by respecting the fact that the economy is inescapably rooted in ecological reality and by recognizing the full array of values—both economic and non-economic—that are present. Further, it can accommodate a form of “no-diseconomy capitalism,” in which public policy prevents the acquisition of profit by externalizing the costs of production—costs that would be unjustly borne by the least wealthy and powerful citizens. Therefore, it is the only model that can support a healthy biosphere and social justice.


  1. Barnett, Harold J., and Chandler Morse. 1963. Scarcity and Growth: The Economics of Natural Resource Availability. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press.Google Scholar
  2. Black, Edwin. 2006. Internal Combustion: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to Oil and Derailed the Alternatives. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  3. Blair, Kathleen. 1995. Cryptosporidium and Public Health. Drinking Water & Health Newsletter (March 1). Accessed 21 Aug 2011.
  4. Bloch, Hannah. 2012. The Riddle of Easter Island. National Geographic 222 (1) (July): 30–49.Google Scholar
  5. Boserup, Ester. 1965. The Conditions of Agricultural Growth: The Economics of Agrarian Change under Population Pressure. London: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  6. Boserup, Ester. 1981. Population and Technological Change: A Study of Long-Term Trends. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bromley, Daniel W., and Jouni Paavola. 2002. Economics, Ethics, and Environmental Policy. In Economics, Ethics, and Environmental Policy: Contested Choices, ed. Daniel W. Bromley and Jouni Paavola, 261–276. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  8. Carter, Virginia. 1997. Wetland Hydrology, Water Quality, and Associated Functions. United States Geological Survey Water Supply Paper 2425 (March). Accessed 21 Aug 2011.
  9. Coase, Ronald H. 1960. The Problem of Social Cost. Journal of Law and Economics 3 (October): 1–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cooter, Robert, and Peter Rappoport. 1984. Were the Ordinalists Wrong About Welfare Economics? Journal of Economic Literature 22 (June): 507–530.Google Scholar
  11. Corso, Phaedra S., Michael H. Kramer, Kathleen A. Blair, David G. Addiss, Jeffrey P. Davis, and Anne C. Haddix. 2003. Cost of Illness in the 1993 Waterborne Cryptosporidium Outbreak, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Emerging Infectious Diseases 9 (4) (April): 426–431.Google Scholar
  12. Daly, Herman E. 1991. Steady-State Economics, 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.Google Scholar
  13. Daly, Herman. 1982. Review of Simon (1981). The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 38 (1) (January): 39–42.Google Scholar
  14. Daly, Herman E. 2003. E-mail to David R. Keller, June 10.Google Scholar
  15. Daly, Herman E., and Kenneth N. Townsend (eds.). 1993. Valuing the Earth: Economics, Ecology, Ethics. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. Diamond, Jared M. 2005a. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Viking.Google Scholar
  17. Diamond, Jared M. 2005a. The Ends of the World as We Know Them. The New York Times (January 1): A13.Google Scholar
  18. Dockery, Douglas W., C. Arden Pope, Xiping Xu, John D. Spengler, James H. Ware, Martha E. Fay, Benjamin G. Ferris, and Frank E. Speizer. 1993. An Association Between Air Pollution and Mortality in Six U.S. Cities. The New England Journal of Medicine 329 (24) (December 9): 1753–1759.Google Scholar
  19. Edwards, Steven F. 1986. Ethical Preferences and the Assessment of Existence Values: Does the Neoclassical Model Fit? Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics 15 (2) (October): 145–150.Google Scholar
  20. Fahys, Judy, and Steve Oberbeck. 2003. MagCorp Suit Targets Owner and Advisors. The Salt Lake Tribune (August 7): A14.Google Scholar
  21. Foucault, Michel. 1980. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972–1977, trans. Colin Gordon, Leo Marshall, John Mepham, and Kate Soper. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  22. Freidman, Milton. 1962. Capitalism and Freedom. With the assistance of Rose D. Friedman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  23. Gertner, Jon. 2012. The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation. New York: Peguin.Google Scholar
  24. Goeller, H. E., and Alvin M. Weinberg. 1976. The Age of Substitutability: What Do We do When the Mercury Runs Out? Science 191 (February 20): 683–689.Google Scholar
  25. Gore, Al. 1992. Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit. New York: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  26. Gregory, Robin, and Tim McDaniels. 1987. Valuing Environmental Losses: What Promise Does the Right Measure Hold? Policy Sciences 20: 11–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hardin, Garrett. 1968. The Tragedy of the Commons. Science 162 (December): 1243–1248.Google Scholar
  28. Hawken, Paul. 1993. The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability. New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  29. Hawken, Paul, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins. 1999. Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.Google Scholar
  30. Hobbes, Thomas. 1985. Leviathan, ed. C.B. MacPherson. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  31. Hollander, Samuel. 2000. John Stuart Mill on Economic Theory and Method: Collected Essays III. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hollander, Samuel. 1985. The Economics of John Stuart Mill. Volume II: Political Economy. Buffalo: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  33. Israelsen, Brent. 2000. BYU Researcher Vindicated in New Pollution Studies. Salt Lake Tribune (November 9): B2.Google Scholar
  34. Kahneman, Daniel, and Jack L. Knetsch. 1992. Valuing Public Goods: The Purchase of Moral Satisfaction. Journal of Environmental Economics 22 (1) (January): 57–70.Google Scholar
  35. Kapp, K. William. 1971. The Social Costs of Private Enterprise. New York: Schocken Books.Google Scholar
  36. Keller, David R. 2001a. Un-American or Very-American? The Goshute Nuclear Waster Repository. Teaching Ethics 1 (1): 79–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Keller, David R. 2001c. Review of Betty Jean Craige, Eugene Odum: Ecosystem Ecologist and Environmentalist. Ethics and the Environment 6: 119–124.Google Scholar
  38. Keller, David R. 2011. Environmental justice. In Encyclopedia of Global Justice, vol. 1, ed. Deen K. Chatterjee, 298–303. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Keller, David R. 2001a. Deconstruction: Fad or Philosophy? Humanitas XIV (2): 58–75.Google Scholar
  40. Keller, David R. 2005a. Land Ethics. Global Studies Encyclopedia, ed. Alexander N. Chumakov. New York: Prometheus Press.Google Scholar
  41. Keller, David R. 2005b. Western Environmentalism. In: Global Studies Encyclopedia, ed. Alexander N. Chumakov. New York: Prometheus Press.Google Scholar
  42. Knight, Frank H. 1924. Some Fallacies in the Interpretation of Social Cost. Quarterly Journal of Economics 38 (August): 582–606.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Leopold, Aldo. 1948. The Ecological Conscience. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 3 (July): 109–112.Google Scholar
  44. Leopold, A. 1949. A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Locke, John. 2005. Two Treatises of Government, ed. Peter Laslett. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  46. MacKenzie, William R., Neil J. Hoxie, Mary E. Proctor, M. Stephen Gradus, Kathleen A. Blair, Dan E. Peterson, James J. Kazmierczak, David G. Addiss, Kim R. Fox, Joan B. Rose, and Jeffrey P. Davis. 1994. A Massive Outbreak in Milwaukee of Cryptosporidium Infection Transmitted Through the Public Water Supply. The New England Journal of Medicine 331 (3) (July 21): 161–167.Google Scholar
  47. Marx, Karl. 1990. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, vol. 1, trans. Ben Fowkes. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  48. Marx, Karl, and Frederick Engels. 1975. Collected Works, vol. 4. New York: International Publishers.Google Scholar
  49. Marx, Karl, and Frederick Engels. 1987. Collected Works, vol. 25. Moscow: Progress Publishers.Google Scholar
  50. Marx, Karl, and Frederick Engels. 1989. Collected Works, vol. 24. Moscow: Progress Publishers.Google Scholar
  51. Menger, Carl. Principles of Economics. 1976 (1871). New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Mill, John Stuart. 1965. Principles of Political Economy with Some of Their Applications to Social Philosophy. Mill, John Stuart. 1965. Principles of Political Economy with Some of Their Applications to Social Philosophy.Google Scholar
  53. Newton, Lisa H. 2003. Ethics and Sustainability: Sustainable Development and the Moral Life. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  54. Partridge, Ernest. 1998. Holes in the Cornucopia. In The Business of Consumption: Environmental Ethics and the Global Economy, ed. Laura Westra and Patricia H. Werhane, 247–270. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  55. Paul, Samuelson. 1967. Economics: An Introductory Analysis, 7th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Press.Google Scholar
  56. Pellow, David N. 2004. The Politics of Illegal Dumping: An Environmental Justice Framework. Qualitative Sociology 27 (4) (Winter): 511–525.Google Scholar
  57. Pigou, Arthur C. 1928. A Study in Public Finance. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  58. Pigou, Arthur C. 1946 (1920). The Economics of Welfare, 4th edn. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  59. Pope, C. Arden. 1989. Respiratory Disease Associated with Community Air Pollution and a Steel Mill, Utah Valley. American Journal of Public Health 79 (5): 623–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Rawls, John. 1971. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Rostow, Walt W. 1990. Theorists of Economic Growth from David Hume to the Present: with a Perspective on the Next Century. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  62. Rothschild, Emma, and Amartya Sen. 2006. Adam Smith’s Economics. In The Cambridge companion to Adam Smith, ed. Knud Haakonseen. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Sagoff, Mark. 2005. Locke Was Right: Nature Has Little Economic Value. Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly 25 (3) (Summer): 2–11.Google Scholar
  64. Sen, Amartya K. 1977. Rational Fools: A Critique of the Behavioral Foundations of Economic Theory. Philosophy and Public Affairs 6 (4) (Summer): 317–344.Google Scholar
  65. Simon, Julian L. 1981. The Ultimate Resource. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Simon, Julian L. 1996. The Ultimate Resource 2. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  67. Smith, Steven Bradley. 1983. The Great Mental Calculators: The Psychology, Methods, and Lives of Calculating Prodigies, Past and Present. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  68. Smith, Mark J. 1998. Ecologism: Towards Ecological Citizenship. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  69. Solzhenitsyn, Alesksandr I. 1974. Letter to the Soviet Leaders. Hilary Sternberg (trans.). New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  70. Spangler, Jerry D., and Donna Kemp Spangler. 2001. Toxic Utah: Mending Toxic Utah: Environmental Laws Score Hits—and Misses. Deseret News (February 18).Google Scholar
  71. Stiglitz, Joseph E. 1988. Economics of the Public Sector, 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton and Company.Google Scholar
  72. Stiglitz, Joseph E. 2010. Interview with Diane Rehm, National Public Radio, January 21.Google Scholar
  73. Sunstein, Cass R. 1991. Preferences and Politics. Philosophy and Public Affairs 20 (1) (Winter): 3–34.Google Scholar
  74. Swett, Ira L. 1974. Interurbans of Utah. Cerritos, Calif.: Interurbans Special issue 55.Google Scholar
  75. Terborgh, John. 2004. Requiem for Nature. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.Google Scholar
  76. Tibbetts, John. 2006. Louisiana’s Wetlands: A Lesson in Nature Appreciation. Environmental Health Perspectives 114 (1) (January): A40–A43.Google Scholar
  77. Veblen, Thorstein. 1900. The Preconceptions of Economic Science, Part III. The Quarterly Journal of Economics 14 (2) (February): 240–269.Google Scholar
  78. von Hayek, Friedrich A. 1948. Individualism and Economic Order. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  79. Wald, Matthew L. 2009. Fossil Fuels’ Hidden Cost Is in Billions. The New York Times (October 20): A16.Google Scholar
  80. Wilson, Anne, and Mike Gorrell. 1993. Pollution Study Casts Cloud on EPA Standards: Utah Can’t Breathe Easy, Since Even Legal Pollution Levels Can Be Deadly. The Salt Lake Tribune (December 10): A1.Google Scholar
  81. Williams, Raymond. 1980. Problems in Materialism and Culture: Selected Essays. London: Verso.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Salt Lake CityUSA

Personalised recommendations