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Scarcity and Growth Revisited: Natural Resources and the Environment in the New Millennium.

Edited by R. David Simpson, Michael A. Toman, and Robert U. Ayres. 1616 P Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20036-1400: RFF Press, June 2005. (202) 328-5086. ISBN 1-933115-10-6. 320pp. $70.00 Cloth. ISBN 1-933115-11-4. $36.95 Paperback.

In this volume, a group of international scholars provides a fresh investigation of the most fundamental issues involved in our dependence on natural resources. In Scarcity and Growth (RFF, 1963) and Scarcity and Growth Reconsidered (RFF, 1979), researchers considered the long-term implications of resource scarcity for economic growth and human well-being. Scarcity and Growth Revisited examines these implications with twenty-five years of new learning and experience. It finds that concerns about resource scarcity have changed in essential ways.

In contrast with the earlier preoccupation with the adequacy of fuel, mineral, and agricultural resources, and the efficiency by which they are allocated, the greatest concern today is about the Earth's limited capacity to handle the environmental consequences of resource extraction and use. Opinion among scholars is divided on the ability of technological innovation to ameliorate this "new scarcity." However, even the book's more optimistic authors agree that the problems will not be successfully overcome without significant advances in the legal, financial, and other social institutions that protect the environment and support technical innovation.

Scarcity and Growth Revisited incorporates expert perspectives from the physical and life sciences, as well as economics. It includes issues confronting the developing world as well as industrialized societies. The book begins with a review of the debate about scarcity and economic growth and a review of current assessments of natural resource availability and consumption.

R. David Simpson is an economist with the National Center for Environmental Economics, United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Michael Toman is a senior economist in the environment division of the sustainable development department of the Inter-American Development Bank.

Robert U. Ayres has been a professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie-Mellon University and a Sandoz Professor of Economics and Technology Management at INSEAD, in France. He is currently an Institute Scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria and a professor of environmental science at Chalmers Institute of Technology, Goteborg University, and Kalmar University.
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Publication:Environmental Law
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 2005
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