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In the world of academics, having one of your works published in the scientific journal Science is a major accomplishment. The same goes with Nature, another of the world’s top peer-reviewed academic journals.
Edward Barbier, the John S. Bugas Professor of Economics at the University of Wyoming, has achieved the distinction of being published in both Science and Nature -- in the same year.
In March, Barbier’s commentary, “Tax ‘societal ills’ to save the planet,” appeared in Nature, outlining several steps that could foster further growth in the green economy worldwide via additional global commitments and funding mechanisms. And in the Nov. 16 issue of Science, an article by Barbier, “The Green Economy Post Rio+20,” makes many of the same arguments, calling for the Group of 20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (G20) to take further action to encourage sustainable development.
“It’s truly rare for a professor to publish in both Nature and Science in the same year, especially as a sole author,” UW Provost Myron Allen says. “Professor Barbier’s accomplishment is a testament not only to his hard work and deep insights, but also to the value of an outstanding community of scholars, such as UW’s Department of Economics and Finance.”
Barbier has more than 25 years’ experience as an environmental and resource economist, working on natural resource and development issues as well as the interface between economics and ecology. He has served as a consultant and policy analyst for a variety of national, international and non-governmental agencies, including many United Nations organizations and the World Bank. He is on the editorial boards of several leading economics and natural science journals. The 21st book he has written or edited, an updated revision of “A New Blueprint for a Green Economy,” was published this year.
Barbier says there is evidence that a global green economy is beginning to emerge. Already, the innovation and employment potential of this sector is attracting considerable investment, growth and momentum across the world. The Environment Business Journal indicates that the $866 billion global environmental market grew 4 percent in 2011, slightly ahead of global gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 3.9 percent. Although the global market is still dominated by the United States, Western Europe and Japan, growth in 2011 was led by Africa (10 percent), the Middle East (9 percent) and the rest of Asia (9 percent).
Solid waste management and water treatment are the largest sectors, but clean energy sectors and power grew by 11 percent in 2011 and now constitute the fourth-largest sub-sector, Barbier notes. In some countries, the green economy has been a significant and dynamic boost to the overall economy. For example, the Confederation of British Industries (CBI) reports that the UK’s green economy is worth $195 billion a year, 8 percent of GDP, and grew at 4.7 percent in 2011.
Barbier says additional funding mechanisms and commitments from world governments would allow the green economy to become even stronger. The key, he says, is to recognize that the environment and the economy are not separate entities, and to break down false barriers separating environment and development concerns.