Economic Sustainability and Allocation

Topics: Economics, Ecological economics, Natural environment Pages: 3 (937 words) Published: April 26, 2013

A) How do the concepts of weak and strong sustainability change the traditional view of the economy? Why are the concepts of weak and strong sustainability important for environmental economics? The main point of transformation between weak and strong sustainability from that of the traditional view of economics primarily arises in regards to the interpretation of environmental and natural resources. Commencing with the traditional view, the environment can be regarded as a composition of raw material inputs (Tietenberg & Lewis 2012, p. 17). These inputs, also known as natural capital, are considered primary factors in the production of goods and services which serve to optimise the welfare of society (Scarborough 2013, p. 2). The objective then, concerning these obviously finite resources, is to somehow maintain the aggregate value of capital within the market and ultimately society in the wake of such depleting natural stock (Tietenberg & Lewis 2013, pp. 111-112). Permeating thus upon this perspective, are the propositions of weak and strong sustainability. In brief, the concept of sustainability development is to maintain the level of capital stock between generations; natural and or total. Weak sustainability suggests that the use of resources of previous time periods should be such that it allows succeeding generations to achieve a level of wellbeing at least as great (Tietenberg & Lewis, 2012, p. 114). We can infer from this that the total value of capital stock (natural, physical, labour etc.) should not regress. Here, weak sustainability entertains the possibility that man-made or manufactured capital can be unconditionally substituted for declines in natural stock hence maintaining the aggregate level of capital stock at a constant (Titenberg & Lewis 2012, p. 114). On the other hand, strong sustainability, based upon the special preservation of biological and natural resources, contends that the value of natural...

References: Ayres, RU, Van den Bergh, JCJM & Gowdy, JM 1998, Viewpoint: weak versus strong sustainability, Tinbergen Institute, retrieved 18 April 2013, <>.
Scarborough, H 2013, Topic 1 introduction to environmental economics, Deakin University.
Tietenberg, T & Lewis, L 2012, Environmental & natural resource economics, 9th edn, Pearson Education, New Jersey.
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