Student guide Facoltą di Economia A.A. 2004/05 Lauree Triennali

Introduction to ecological economics
Claudio Cattaneo
Aim of the course
Environmental signals show us we are probably on the edge of a crisis. The uncertainty about our future environment relates to the development of a new discipline: ecological economics. Transdisciplinary by nature, its roots come from economics, environmental sciences, biology, sociology, physics, ethics, psychology, etc. but it is not only the sum of all of them: the discipline is based on a new paradigm and, when dealing with some environmental problems, it stresses the ignorance of the outcome and the application of the precautionary principle. Also, it proposes a methodological alternative to conventional decision making based only on monetary evaluations of the environment; in ecological economics decision problems are always presented in a multicriterial context where the environmental, economic and social aspect play a role, therefore it gets closer than neoclassical economics to the science of sustainability.
1.   The state of the world and future risks: atmospheric emissions, soil erosion, forest and biodiversity loss, population growth, climate change, agriculture, successful histories (the ban on CFCs)
2.  Environmental (neoclassical) economics: Cost-Benefit Analysis and other techniques of monetary evaluation for the environment. Polluter pays principle, negative externalities and the reality, environmental Kuznets  curve.
3.    open system versus closed system economics: entropy law, economic growth paradigms, technological perceptions, environmental perceptions;
4.  Ecological economics: meaning, transdisciplinarity, and its fundaments: limits to physical growth, ignorance and precautionary principle, multicriteria analysis.
5.  Sustainability: definition, the three pillars of sustainability, human capital, natural capital, man-made capital, measures of sustainable development, weak or strong sustainability
6.    Indicators: GDP, NNP, green NNP and ISEW, Human Development Index, Ecological Footprint, Material Flow Analysis
7.   North-South trade from a southern perspective, ecological debt (carbon debt, bio-piracy, environmental passive and toxic waste transportation), the environmentalism of the poor
8.    Environmental risks, complexity and Post Normal Science
9.    Enterprise and environment: ethical consumption, life cycle assessment, industrial ecology.
10.  Policies: case studies and implications in the decision making context. Participation in decision making. The tragedy of the commons
Reading list
A detailed reading list will be distributed at the beginning of the course and will be found on the web at: