Endangered Economies: How the Neglect of Nature Threatens Our Prosperity

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Endangered Economies: How the Neglect of Nature Threatens Our Prosperity
by Geoffrey Heal
Columbia University Press, 2016
240 pp.
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Environmentalists concerned about climate change have sometimes found themselves pitted against those in poor countries whose first priority is economic development. Heal persuasively argues that these agendas are not in conflict at all, and he crafts an excellent overview of the economic case for protecting the environment. First, significant climate change will make economic development more difficult on several fronts. Second, technical advances have made alternative sources of energy increasingly competitive—and more progress is on the way, particularly when it comes to the storage of electricity. Finally, if governments began to properly price environmental assets—for example, charging firms for permission to emit greenhouse gases—they could raise a great deal of revenue that, properly employed, would enhance development. All around the world, societies need to seriously alter their economic behaviors to prevent the worst-case climate scenarios. But such changes need not come at the expense of growth.