About Author

Robert N. Stavins is the A.J. Meyer Professor of Energy & Economic Development, Director of Graduate Studies for the Doctoral Programs in Public Policy and in Political Economy and Government, Co-chair of the MPP/MBA and MPA/ID/MBA Joint Degree Programs. He is the Director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program and the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements. He is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a University Fellow of Resources for the Future, former Chair of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Economics Advisory Board, and a member of the editorial councils of scholarly periodicals. His research has examined diverse areas of environmental economics and policy and has appeared in a variety of economics, law, and policy journals, as well as several books. Stavins directed Project 88, a bipartisan effort co-chaired by former Senator Timothy Wirth and the late Senator John Heinz to develop innovative approaches to environmental problems. He has been a consultant to government agencies, international organizations, corporations, and advocacy groups. He holds a BA in philosophy from Northwestern University, an MS in agricultural economics from Cornell, and a PhD in economics from Harvard.

Book Description

The scope of the book is comprehensive and the list of authors is a veritable Who’s Who of economists working on environmental and natural resource issues. The articles are timely, with 60 percent published since 2000 and half published since 2005.

In order to make the book accessible to readers at all levels, the articles are not only original and well written — and meet the highest standards of economic scholarship — but also are non technical in their presentations. Hence, readers will find virtually no formal mathematics in any of the book’s 34 chapters throughout its 733 pages.

Through five previous editions, Economics of the Environment has served as a valuable supplement to environmental economics texts for students and as a stand-alone book of original readings from the frontiers of the scholarly literature for broader audiences. This sixth edition promises to do the same.

The Virtual Book Tour was brought to you by HKS Library & Knowledge Services. As of Spring 2019, our faculty video series is called Behind the Book. Please direct inquiries to Alessandra Seiter, Knowledge Services Librarian.


Robert Stavins:

Some time ago, I was flying out of Boston's Logan Airport and I sat down in my seat and pulled out a book to read. And I quickly realized that the gentleman sitting next to me wanted to have a conversation. Perhaps you've noticed what I have and that is that are tend to be two kinds of people who fly; those who like to have conversations with strangers and then the rest of us. So I'm very much in that second category. But he was determined to have a conversation. And he tried to start the conversation the way people frequently do in such situations.

He asked me what business I was in, what I do for a living? And I did something foolish, I told the truth. I said, "I'm an environmental economist." And he looked at me and I looked at him. And he didn't say anything further. This fellow who clearly wanted to chat. And then it dawned upon me that the reason you wasn't following up was that he had concluded that he had just met a living breathing oxymoron, an internal contradiction. After all, it's either economics or the environment. So what could this possibly mean of environmental economics? It made no sense.

Well, far from environmental economics being oxymoronic, it's actually absolutely central to an understanding of environmental problems. And, therefore, for the design of effective and sensible solutions. And the reason I say this is because in a market economy, such as we live in in the United States and predominates now throughout the world, the causes of environmental problems are fundamentally economic. They're externalities, they're unintentional consequences of market activity by firms, by individuals like you and me.

And also, the consequences of environmental problems have important to economic dimensions. So if the causes of environmental problems and the consequences of environmental problems are both economic, as they are, then surely an economic perspective can help us to understand the problems and to design policies which will be effective, economically sensible, and, therefore, politically pragmatic.

That's what this new book Economics Of The Environment, the sixth edition is all about. It's written not just by me, I edited it. But also by a real dream team of the leading environmental economists, not just from the United States but from around the world. This is a who's who from the world of economics and environmental economics. And through out it's chapters, one comes to understand from the beginning of the basics to the end of the applications, the fundamentals of this exceptionally valuable perspective on environment. It's for that reason that we enjoyed writing the book. And I hope that you'll enjoy and you'll benefit from reading it.