Arguably, our adherence to the free-market model of economics has been among the major factors that have contributed to environmental deterioration. This is because environmental benefits are treated as public goods and are hence underpriced and undervalued. This work introduces readers to some of the factors that have caused that economic model to fail, some of the most prevalent solutions to address these failures, the challenges of these solutions, and some of their successes. Government regulation has traditionally been used to safeguard the interests of those not represented in the economic transaction. More recently, economists have tried to use corrective mechanisms to account for environmental costs. The result has been not only greater government regulation but also publicity campaigns to raise consumer awareness. This has led to international agreements (albeit applied unevenly) that consider the environment.
The entries in this book highlight areas where market-based economic models are inadequate and need to be supplemented to protect our natural resources. An introductory essay summarizes key economic concepts, environmental concerns, and some of the methods used to address these concerns. Entries related to basic economic concepts (specifically market failure and contemporary movements to correct for these failures) are well written. Entries that address valuation models require additional resources for readers who want a working background in these methods. Other entries profile the work of prominent environmental economists, events, and environmental policies. The work is well suited as a supplemental reference for introductory college-level environmental-economics courses.
— Muhammed Hassanali