What Economics Can Contribute to a Healthier Planet

Wagner, Gernot

Money makes the world go ‘round. Like it or not, our values and priorities have made this true. It is also no doubt true that free markets, left to themselves, are destroying our environment. We are eating endangered species from depleted seas while cooking the planet under a blanket of greenhouse gases. It is no longer a question of whether New York City will be under water if we don’t turn things around. It is a question of when.

The forces are larger than any of us can directly influence, however much we like to think that by eating tofu and taking public transport we can make a difference at the necessary scale. Rather, we need to guide the collective power of billions to make the economic pie bigger for all of us without wrecking the planet.

Adapted from one of the chapters, “Fewer Fish, More Dough,” in Wagner's book "But Will the Planet Notice?"

Published as an RFF Policy Commentary on October 31st, 2011.


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School of International and Public Affairs
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October 30, 2015