Classroom Resources: The Nature of the Fiscal World

The Nature of the Fiscal World

By Tali Woodward

January-March 2009 / Vol. 10 No. 1

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Discussion Questions

1.    According to Oliver Pergams, how might economic growth have been miscast as a panacea?  What might be misleading about simply characterizing economic growth as “good” or “bad”?  What are some of the possible consequences of thinking about economic growth as being equivalent to economic health?
2.    What does the Kuznets Curve predict? What do the data actually show about the relationship between per capita Gross National Product (GNP) and species endangerment?  What does this suggest about the possible relationship between models and reality?
3.    What is the goal of the Environmental Performance Index (EPI)? What goes into its calculation? From its description in the article, can you identify any assumptions that it makes? How might the calculation (and reporting) of an EPI stimulate conservation action?
4.    What is the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)? How does the Genuine Progress Indicator relate to GDP?  How does the concept of “inclusive wealth” differ from GDP?  How can the measurement of inclusive wealth be used to assess sustainability?
5.    Why did China and the World Bank “give up” on valuing nature? Do you think that those were appropriate or defensible responses?

Websites for Further Information

•    Environmental Performance Index
•    Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare
•    Genuine Progress Indicator
•    Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy

Environmental Economics in the News

•    Russia and China blame capitalists (New York Times, January 28, 2009)
•    Chinese premier injects note of optimism at Davos (New York Times, January 29, 2009)
•    World Bank still not lending with environment (and disasters) in mind (New York Times, July 22, 2008)

Key Concepts

•    Environmental economics
•    Environmental health
•    Environmental attitude
•    Gross Domestic Product
•    Gross National Product
•    Economic growth
•    Economic health
•    Environmental Performance Index

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