Taloustieteilijät ja varhainen luonnonsuojelu Yhdysvalloissa

Economists and Early Conservationism in the United States

The article throws light on the poorly known role of American economists in formulating the conceptual background of early conservationism in the United States from 1880 to 1915. The role of the Wisconsin group of economists and especially Richard T. Ely's contributions to American economics are here presented as important exponents of the conceptual framework of early conservationism. The motives behind the actual goals of the early conservationist movement, as exemplified by John Wesley Powell and Gifford Pinchot, were technical development and technological rationalism in disguised forms. The conservation programs were started in order to exploit existing resources as rationally as possible. The heralds of conservationism did not show interest in conceptualizing the phenomena of consumption and waste. The Wisconsin economists, on the other hand, made minute definitions for consumption, waste, and conservation. They made a difference between social and individual utilities and detriments. Richard Ely, for ex-ample, talks about consumption as a general term and with various attributes (such as harmful, excessive and wasteful consumption). The exact opposite for the concept of waste could not be formulated easily, for waste does not mean only the simple consumption of things. In Ely's vocabulary it consists of a further negative influence, so the exact counterconcept should suggest not only the maintenance but also a further improvement of conditions as well as justice in distribution. Such a term in Ely's vocabulary is conservationism.

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