I chose this article because it focuses on sustainable economics, which “is ethically founded on the idea of efficiency, that is non-wastefulness, in the use of scare resources” (Ballet, 2011, p. 1831). Sustainable economics is critical because it helps achieve two major goals: “(i) the satisfaction of individuals’ needs and wants, and (ii) justice, including justice between humans of present and future generations, and justice toward Nature, within the setting of human-nature relationships over the long-term and inherently uncertain future” (Ballet, 2011, p. 1841). In other words, sustainable economics is a burgeoning field that has multiple applications to modern life today, particularly in terms of the environment, and this article offers good insight into how to implement sustainable economics in an environmental context.
My overall impression of the article is positive; it is concise and well researched, identifying a specific focus within the introduction: “This article highlights the fact that the Capability Approach, as developed by Sen (1992) and others, could provide an exiting approach to sustainability economics” (Ballet, 2011, p. 1831). I also appreciate the fact that the authors acknowledge some limitations to this approach, and they present both “the major advantages and drawbacks of using the Capability Approach” (Ballet, 2011, p. 1831). The authors clearly identify two major limitations: “Firstly, it is based on static analysis, and because of this it ignores a number of dynamic questions … Secondly, it is an approach that does not explicitly take uncertainty into account” (Ballet, 2011, p. 1833). In spite of this approach’s limitations, I still believe that this article presents several significant findings.
In my opinion, this article presents several significant findings that relate to both sustainable economics and environmental economics. This article is significant in that it highlights economic sustainability from an environmental perspective, and it focuses on issues that arise regarding the correlation between environmental destruction and poverty. For example, “deforestation in developing countries is commonly blamed on families using firewood and charcoal in the home” (Ballet, 2011, p. 1832). The article also argues that the use of firewood and charcoal can be attributed to the families’ lack of alternative options: “In terms of capabilities, it is also clear that this occurs because of the lack of viable alternatives for low-income families” (Ballet, 2011, p. 1832).
Lastly, this article relates strongly to environmental economics due to the direct relationship it establishes between poverty and the environment: “With the aim of elucidating the relationship between poverty and the environment, and recognizing the importance of the environment in poverty-reduction and development policies, the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Development Programme jointly launched a Poverty-Environment Initiative in 2007” (Ballet, 2011, p. 1832). In short, the United Nations is attempting to provide the aforementioned impoverished families a means “to choose amongst various types of freedom” (Ballet, 2011, p. 1832) that will allow them to gain economic self-sufficiency.
By gaining economic self-sufficiency, these families will be able to help preserve their surrounding natural environment. Overall, “the Capability Approach stresses that natural resources and the environment can be indeed create opportunities, but that they also create constraints; it also stresses that much depends on the way in which individuals use them” (Ballet, 2011, p. 1832). In other words, this article relates to how people, when provided with viable, alternative methods, can practice behaviors that help preserve, rather than destroy, the environment.