The Environmental Turn in Natural Resource Economics: John Krutilla and 'Conservation Reconsidered'
25 Pages Posted: 10 May 2016
Date Written: May 9, 2016
Environmentalism in the United States historically has been divided into its utilitarian and preservationist impulses, represented by Gifford Pinchot and John Muir, respectively. Pinchot advocated conservation of natural resources to be used for human purposes; Muir advocated protection from humans, for nature's own sake. In the first half of the 20th century, natural re-source economics was firmly in Pinchot's side of that schism. That position began to change as the post-war environmental movement gained momentum. In particular, John Krutilla, an economist at Resources for the Future, pushed economics to the point that it could embrace Muir's vision as well as Pinchot's. Krutilla argued that if humans preferred a preserved state to a developed one, then such preferences were every bit as "economic." Either way, there were opportunity costs and an economic choice to be made.
Keywords: Krutilla, Conservation, Preservation, Existence Value
JEL Classification: B21, B31, Q3, Q5
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation