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EC238 (73)
Karen Huff (52)
Chapter 2

Chapter 2 EC238.docx

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EC238 Chapter 2 – Natural Capital, Linkages between the Economy Week 1 and the Environment, and Pollution Natural Capital -Canada’s natural capital is the stock of natural and environmental resources that sustain our ecosystems, economy, and well-being of our residents -Three components comprise natural capital: 1. Natural resource capital – stocks of renewable and non-renewable resources – Minerals, energy, water 2. Ecosystems or environmental capital – systems that provide essential environmental goods and services such as our atmosphere and waste assimilation provided by forests, grass and wetlands 3. Land -Natural capital has huge intrinsic value – it sustains life economic activity, and well-being -Nature is capable of producing goods and services over time -Nature is depletable if there is not enough reinvestment in sustaining the capital stock -Sustaining our natural capital at a healthy level is essential to sustain our population any economic system Natural Resource and Environmental Economics -A resource that is vitally important to the survival of all species resides not in any one substance but in a collection of elements: biological diversity -All materials in consumer goods must eventually end up as residuals, even though some may be recycled along the way Reducing the Flow of Residual Wastes into the Environment -To reduce the mass of residuals disposed of in the natural environment, the quantity of natural capital inputs taken into the economic system must be reduced -There are three ways to reduce the use of natural capital inputs, and therefore, residuals discharged into the natural environment: -Reduce the quantity of goods and services produced -Reduce the residuals from production – reduce the residuals per unit of output produced. We can invent and adopt new production technologies and practices -Increase recycling -An environmentally friendly good releases fewer or less harmful residuals into the environment that pollution-intensive goods Terminology Ambient quality – the quantity of pollutants in the environment Environmental quality – a term used to refer broadly to the state of the natural environment Residuals – Material that is left over after something has been produced Emissions – The portion of production or consumption residuals that are placed in the environment, sometimes directly, sometimes after treatment Recycling – The process of returning some or all of the production or consumption residuals to be used again in production or consumption Pollutant – A substance, energy form, or action that, when introduced into the natural environment, results in a lowering of the ambient quality level EC238 Chapter 2 – Natural Capital, Linkages between the Economy Week 1 and the Environment, and Pollution Effluent – describes water and air pollutants Pollution – A residual that degrades the natural environmental and can affect human health and the economy Damages – the negative impacts produced by environmental pollution Environmental medium – broad dimensions of the natural world that collectively constitute the environment, usually classified as land, water, and air Source – the location at which emissions occur, such as a factory, an automobile, or a leaking landfill Types of Pollutants Accumulative vs. Non-accumulative Pollutants -One simple and important dimension of environmental pollutants is whether they accumulate over time or tend to dissipate soon after being emitted -Non-accumulative pollutants – a classic example is noise, there is noise for as long as the system operates but as soon as it shuts down, the noise stops. -Accumulative pollutants stay in the environment nearly the same amounts as they are emitted – their total stock thus builds up over time as these pollutants are released into the environment each year. Ex. Radioactive waste -Whether a pollutant is accumulative or non-accumulative, we still have essentially the same basic problem: trying to figure out the environmental damages and relating these back to the costs of reducing emissions -Accumulativ
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