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Editors: Claval, Paul
Pagnini, Maria Paola
Scaini, Maurizio
Issue Date: 19-Jul-2006
Journal: Proceedings of the Conference THE CULTURAL TURN IN GEOGRAPHY, 18-20th of September 2003 - Gorizia Campus
Part V: Economical Trends and Cultural Environmental Chances
Environmental deterioration can be defined as “the loss of capital- nature”. “Environment
accounting” becomes the paradigm of the conservation and preservation of such capital by the
same standards of an enterprise patrimony. Environmental goods valuation can be a
prerequisite in order to control and contain the damages caused by man to the environment
(Bishop and Woodward, 1995).
From the cowboy economy attitude, according to which the natural environment had to be
conquered and civilized in conformity with the idea of the open system and that of continuing
economic growth (abundance of resources, expensive use of energy),we have passed to a
different perception of the environmental problem, the spaceman economy. The Earth-
Spaceship metaphorie the consideration of a circular economic system, has given prominence
to the typical limited aspect of environmental resources. Environmental deterioration main
artificer is the industrial and commercial “criminal development”, permitted by the incessant
technical and scientific acceleration. Nevertheless the deterioration accomplice is often “the
missing awareness and determination of the total economic value of resource and natural
functions” (Barbier 1989). The environmental conceptual apparatus is that of the Economy of
Wealth. In contrast with some of these theoretic presuppositions, a second discipline has been
delineated: the ecological economy, whose epistemological principles are different (Stellin
and Rosato, 1998). The ideological visions concerning environmental problems can be
summarily assembled into two general categories: “technocentrism” and “ecocentrism”. The
former category includes the positions considering, on different levels, the natural patrimony
whose aim is the satisfaction of human needs; the category of ecocentrism enlarges the ethic
reasoning and arrives at ascribing rights, moral interests to non-human species, even to
environmental a biotic components. The environmental patrimony protection is by now a
prerogative of developed countries. But its effective accomplishment is hampered by a
conjunction of factors deriving from the difficulties in valuating the shocks undergone by the
system; from the rapid and sufficient realization of their presence, so to prearrange appropriate
countermeasures; from the achievement of a difficult balance between misuses containment
and pollution from one side, and stimulation of the industrial production from the other.
According to the contemporary economic perspective, environmental goods such as air, water,
fauna are valuable goods, since the offer a flow of services to the individuals. In the service
economic value the measuring process of services, supplied by natural resources , is a part of
the benefit/cost approach. In conformity with this statement an enlarged point of view should
be adopted, so to make the services real flow supplied to society and economy in natural
resource readable: before all as an input source (fossil fuels, lumber, minerals, etc.), secondly
as an indispensable element for human life (breathable air, livable climatic condition, etc.),
then as a supplier of a series of reconstructive and landscape opportunities and finally as a
system capable to receive and waste the surplus coming from the human activity.
Consequently, the environmental economic value can be defined as the sum of flows
discounted net values deriving from all the offered services: the benefits of an increasing
support of any environmental service flow are given by the increase of the service discounted
value. Likewise pollution damages correspond to the reduction in the service flow. The used
value concept is founded on the economy of wealth: the individual wealth/utility dose not
depend only on consumed - public or private- but even on the quantity and the quality of nonmarket
goods and services supplied by natural/environmental resources system (e.g. health,
recreative opportunities, landscape services, etc.). It follows that the reference for the
economic value derivation measures of changements in the resources/environment system is
the effect on human wealth.
If society wishes exploiting the equipment of natural resources in the most efficient way,
the values of goods/services flows coming from the resources use itself (i.e. the benefits)and
enjoyed by every member, should be compared to the values they renounce deterring
environmental goods/services from other employments (i.e. the costs). Since the benefits and
the costs are valuated according to their effect on the individual wealth, the “economic value”
and “economic value” concepts correspond. The economic theory maintains that the
individuals have proper preferences among goods/services alternative bundles - of market or
not- and that preferences enjoy the replace ability property among such goods/services. Some
observers are critical towards the attempt of expanding the economic measure process to
elements such as health, human security, environmental features, landscape values and
synthesizing its value in a monetary measure. Substantially the economic approach to the
environment, whose quantification is presumed and its specify dispersed in the homogeneous
measure of currency, has been under discussion.
Type: Proceedings
ISBN: 88-8303-180-6
Rights: © Copyright 2003 Edizioni Università di Trieste - EUT
Appears in Collections:The cultural turn in geography

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