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Lost Landscapes and Failed Economies: The Search for a Value of Place

Lost Landscapes and Failed Economies: The Search for a Value of Place

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Over the past two decades, a growing consensus has emerged among Americans as to the importance of environmental quality. Yet at the same time, conflict over environmental issues has built to a point where rational discussion is often impossible. Efforts to protect unique ecosystems and endangered wildlife are portrayed as threatening entire regions and ways of life, and anti-environmental groups such as the Wise Use Movement are able to use economic insecurity as a weapon in an ongoing attempt to rescind environmental protection measures.

In Lost Landscapes and Failed Economics, economist Thomas Michael Power argues that the quality of the natural landscape is an essential part of a community's permanent economic base and need not be sacrificed in short-term efforts to maintain employment levels in industries that are ultimately not sustainable. He provides numerous case studies of the ranching, mining, and timber industries in a critical analysis of the role played by extractive industry in our communities. In addition, he looks at areas where environmental protection measures have been enacted and examines the impact of protected landscapes on local economies.

Both environmental protection and extractive industry are economic activities that can contribute to local economic well-being. Both generate jobs and income. Both have a significant impact on people's lives. Power exposes the fundamental flaws in the widely accepted view of the local economy built around the "extractive model," a model that overemphasizes the importance of extractive industries and assumes that people don't care where they live and that businesses don't care about the available labor supply. By revealing the inadequacies of the extractive model, he lays to rest fears that environmental protection will cause an imminent collapse of the community, and puts economic tools in the hands of those working to protect their communities.