The International Regulation of Extinction

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During the summer of 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro was hailed as a watershed moment in the ecology movement. Over 100 nations signed a new international treaty intended to conserve biological diversity. Yet, every day, species--many not even discovered--are driven into extinction and the ecological crisis continues to be a pressing global problem.

Stressing the need to build bridges between the scientific community and international policymakers, Timothy Swanson here develops a new theory of the interplay between human society and the biological world. Biodiversity regulation, he argues, must focus specifically on the regulation of the global economic forces driving species into extinction. As the global development process becomes increasingly sophisticated, the spectre of a homogenized biosphere looms large.

Yet, while biological diversity is responsible for a host of global benefits, it confers few tangible gains onto individual nations that offset the financial advantages of exploiting these same natural resources. The same economic rationale that drives farmers to grow coca leafs instead of grain compels countries to exploit natural resources, rather than conserve them. In order to stave off the decline of biological diversity, Swanson proposes the creation of specific policies that will internalize the benefits of biodiversity on a national level.

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Editorial Reviews

Swanson (economics, Cambridge U.) argues that efforts to maintain biodiversity must focus on regulating the global economic forces that are daily driving species into extinction. As a means of building bridges between the scientific community and policymakers, he offers a new theory of the interplay between human society and the biological world, and suggests specific policies designed to allow countries to benefit from biodiversity in their own territory. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814779927
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/1994
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 8.84 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Timothy M. Swanson is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Economics at Cambridge University, the author of numerous articles on the law and economics of endangered species and biodiversity, and advisor to numerous national and international organizations on these issues.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables
List of Figures
1 Introduction 1
2 Global Biodiversity: Some Background and a Preview 19
3 The Economics of Extinction Revisited and Revised 45
4 The Global Conversion Process 77
5 The Commons and the State: Regulating Overexploitation 116
6 The Global Biodiversity Problem 148
7 International Intervention in National Resource Management 179
8 International Regulation of the Wildlife Trade 200
9 International Regulation of Information 229
10 The International Regulation of Extinction - Conclusions 252
Bibliography 265
Index 277
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