Advanced Concepts Unit 4 The Economics of Sustainability

Essential Question How are traditional economic systems limited to encouraging sustainability on global, regional and local scales? The Big Idea Understanding economics is integral to understanding sustainability. The prefix eco, derived from the ancient Greek word for “house,” is the base of the words “economics” and “ecology.” Both disciplines study the behavior of systems and relationships between parts of systems. However, the current global economic system operates in ways that discount ecological relationships or health, and it is marked by several unsustainable trends. By prioritizing monetary returns on investments over all other measures of well-being, our system makes economic growth obligatory even when it is unsustainable. Although economic growth provides benefits to society, unsustainable growth is linked to inequality, natural resource depletion, and pollution. Current market incentives are reinforcing these trends, and there is little pressure from the global economic system to decrease economic inequality, make economic growth more sustainable, or rein in resource depletion and pollution. However, progressive approaches such as the economic valuation of nature offer hope that the global economic system can become truly sustainable. Topics Covered: Dominant global economic trends: economic growth Market failures and externalities  Tragedy of the commons and the free rider problem  Ecological economics  Placing a value on nature  Creating a sustainable economic system This course is approved for 1.5 GBCI CE Hours for LEED Credential Maintenance.  Please note: This course is part of the 7.5 hour course Advanced Concepts in Sustainability (aka the Fellow Certificate).