CGMF's Top Blog Posts of 2016

The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation’s 2016 blog initiative addressed the question: “Is there an economic argument for environmental protection?”—a particularly relevant question as we move into 2017 and the Trump administration.

The following are some of the initiative’s top posts—opinions penned by influencers from a global community of disparate experts—explore solutions at the nexus of environmental protection, social equity, and economic vibrancy.

Editor's Note: Blog posts rankings are based on social media quantitiative measurements, and are listed in alphabetical order according to the author's name, with links to the full article and the author's background. 


Is there an economic argument for environmental protection? 

Can a sustainable, viable economic argument be made for environmental protection? Does it make good business sense to establish practices of protecting the natural environment on individual, organizational, or governmental levels for the benefit of both the natural environment and humans? The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation pose these and other questions in the first post of its 2016 blog initiative.


The environment as an asset to economic prosperity and development

Dr. Robert Costanza explains why the idea of environmental preservation as an asset, as opposed to an impediment, to economic prosperity and development is both very old and very new. He says reframing the way we view the natural world is essential to solving the problem of how to build a sustainable and desirable future.


Energy, growth, and altruism: Forty years on

Dr. Peter Fox-Penner takes a look back when George P. Mitchell, the philanthropist, scientist and businessman announced the creation of the Mitchell Prize to be awarded in conjunction with the first Woodlands Conference, reflecting Mitchell’s desire to restate the original message of the Club of Rome: “Limits to Growth: The First Biennial Assessment of Alternatives to Growth.” The narratives ingles out three dilemmas: (1) The Energy-Labor tradeoff, (2) The Income-Energy tradeoff, and (3) The Respending Effect—vexing dilemmas that stood as underappreciated barriers to progress to a sustainable energy economy.


A peak behind the curtain

When is it worth protecting a wetland or enacting a new safety regulation? Writ large, what is the role of government in promoting and protecting public welfare? Jonathan J. Halperin takes a look at a nested suite of issues and assumptions that often go largely unexamined in the debate about the value of environmental protection and whether it supports or constrains economic growth. 


Capitalism must evolve to solve the climate crisis  

Dr. Andrew Hoffman argues that there are two extremes in the debate over capitalism’s role in our present climate change problem. On the one hand, some people see climate change as the outcome of a consumerist market system run rampant. On the other, some people have faith in a free market to yield the needed solutions to our social problems. Between these two extremes, the public debate takes on its usual binary, black-and-white, conflict-oriented, unproductive, and, basically, incorrect form. Such a debate feeds into a growing distrust many have for capitalism. The argument, and the model, must evolve. 


Macro and climate economics: It's time to talk about the 'elephant in the room'

If we want to maximize our ability to achieve future energy, climate, and economic goals, we must start to use improved economic modeling concepts.  There is a very real tradeoff of the rate at which we address climate change and the amount of economic growth we experience during the transition to a low-carbon economy. Dr. Carey King makes the point that if we ignore this tradeoff, as do most of the economic models, then we risk politicians and citizens revolting against the transition to a clean energy economy.

The economics of the 'economic argument for environmental protection'

Dr. Alan Krupnick makes the point that most have not taken a course in environmental economics, and that grounding in the principles of environmental economics is critical to making educated decisions related to environmental protection. Given how numerous, contradictory, and contentious the conversations about the environment can be—he spells out a few principles that make decoding the debates a bit more palatable.


Finally, clean energy opportunities meet the risk-return requirements of investors. Now what?

The December 2015 global climate agreement adopted in Paris serves both as a roadmap for tackling climate change and a blueprint for rethinking how we bring energy to 1.3 billion people who live without electricity—a significant barrier to eradicating global poverty. Mindy Lubber spells out why clean energy, not fossil fuel energy, is a critical linchpin, and explains how an unprecedented number of corporate and investor leaders will help drive a path toward a clean energy economy. 


The views expressed by contributors to the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation's blogging initiative, "The Economic Argument for Environmental Protection," are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the foundation. 

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