Discounting, hierarchies, and the social aspects of biodiversity protection

John M. Gowdy (Department of Economics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, USA)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Publication date: 1 April 1996


Among biologists it is generally recognized that market activity is having a devastating effect on the biological world. The current worldwide loss of biodiversity may be of the same order of magnitude as the five mass extinctions which have decimated life on earth during the past 500 million years. One reason for the current crisis is that decisions about resource use are increasingly made from the narrow perspective of market exchange. Decisions made in this context necessarily place a lower value on preservation than those made in a broader social context. Although the phenomenon of discounting generally works against biodiversity conservation, policies may be devised to use discounting to implement land use policies which will take effect in the relatively distant future.



Gowdy, J. (1996), "Discounting, hierarchies, and the social aspects of biodiversity protection", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 23 No. 4/5/6, pp. 49-63.

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Copyright © 1996, MCB UP Limited

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