Environmental Economics for Beginners

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Dr. Subhashini Muthukrishnan‘s ‘Introduction to Environmental Economics’ is a comprehensive and coherent discussion of environmental economics, combining various issues, concepts, and theories from neoclassical economics to examine the interaction between economics and the environment. The book is designed as an introductory text for students of economics, environmental science, and environmental engineering, and anyone interested in understanding the complex relationship between the economy and the environment.

The book highlights the need for economies to increase their growth rates, primarily focusing on expanding output and improving living standards, which can only be achieved through larger utilization of environmental resources. This results in environmental degradation and resource depletion, resulting in climate change which are major concerns for life and the planet today.

The chapters cover a range of topics namely an overview of environmental economics, the interaction between economy and the environment, ecosystem services, biodiversity and its economic perspective which provide the background for an economic perspective on environmental issues. Environmental resources are subject to market failure as these resources do not have well-defined property rights. The resulting externality, issues of welfare, and decision-making in the context of environmental resources are presented in detail.

Environmental degradation is an outcome of market failure and requires policymaking to correct or prevent it. The chapter on the monetary valuation of the environment provides the basis for understanding the trade-offs using economic tools such as cost-benefit and cost-effective analysis followed by developing appropriate instruments for environmental protection.  Finally, it examines the relationship between population, environment, and sustainable development goals which pose real-time challenges to economic development and growth itself.

Dr Subhashini Muthukrishnan is a former Professor of Economics and Dean of Social Sciences at St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore, now a university.

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