Conflict Research Consortium BOOK SUMMARY

Environomics: The Economics of Environmentally Safe Prosperity


Farid A. Khavari


Farid A. Khavari. Environomics: The Economics of Environmentally Safe Prosperity. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1993, 189 pp.

This book summary written by: Conflict Research Consortium Staff.

Environomics: The Economics of Environmentally Safe Prosperity explores ways of attaining general economic prosperity while improving or at least sustaining environmental conditions. The author argues that present forms of economic growth degrade the environment, and are not sustainable in the long term.

Environomics: The Economics of Environmentally Safe Prosperity will be of interest to those who seek to reconcile economic growth with environmental protection. This work is divided into sixteen chapters, with a bibliography and an index. In his Preface Khavari argues that "economic growth in the conventional sense does not contribute to real economic growth in any abiding manner." In his Introduction he argues that environmentalists often discount economic costs, and economists tend to disregard long term environmental impacts, to their mutual detriment. The author goes on to suggest that a "trade-off" between prosperity and ecology is not inevitable, these two goals can be reconciled.

Chapter Three argues that environmental destruction and poverty form a vicious cycle. Conventional notions of economic growth in fact resemble "pyramid schemes." To understand and reverse this detrimental cycle, it must be approached from four major areas: economic growth, technology, politics, and energy requirements. Chapter Four presents one of the fundamental tenets of environomics, redefining prosperity. The author argues that current methods of calculating gross national products (GNP) distort long term economic reality, and misconstrue prosperity. Instead, an environomic approach will focus on prosperity as securing basic goods to all people. Chapter Five expands upon the further principles of environomics. It discusses the concept of "qualitative growth," and ways to assess productivityin terms of qualitative, rather than merely quantitative growth. This chapter also discuses criteria for identifying prosperity-inducing technologies. Chapter Six then offers some general examples of how environomic would work, and how it differs from conventional economics, as regarding population, employment and inflation.

Chapters Seven explores in detail an environomic approach to energy production. In Chapter Eight the author discuses the importance of affordable universal healthcare to promoting environomic prosperity and environmental health. Chapter Nine diagnosis current obstacles to resolving environmental problems. These obstacles include short-sightedness and self-serving political ambitions on the part of many politicians and corporations. He suggests drawing on elements from the political and social organization of the United States, Japan, and Germany to counter such obstacles. Just as poverty and environmental destruction from a vicious cycle, so can worldwide prosperity and environmental protection form a reinforcing cycle. Chapter Ten discusses the key role of capital and interest in maintaining prosperity; real interests rates must be reduced to a minimum. The author then discusses the impact of interest rates on inflation and unemployment.

Chapters Eleven through Fifteen discuss implementation of environomic reforms. A list of ten attitudes or approaches is provided, which emphasize waste avoidance, assuming responsibility for damages, sustainability, global awareness, and an emphasis on modular design. Chapter Twelve focuses particularly on needed political and economic measures. Taxation policies are discussed. Chapter Fifteen presents a hypothetical case study to further illustrate environomic principles in action.

In Conclusion, the author assesses the present potential for implementing environomic reforms, and points out those social factors and conditions which seem promising.

Environomics: The Economics of Environmentally Safe Prosperity proposes a comprehensive and thought-provoking revisioning of contemporary economic practice and understandings.