Conservation Outdoors

Wilma Dykeman Legacy Hosts Environmental Economics Forum

The environmental economics forum Green Money: Nature Makes Good Business Sense takes place via webinar Thursday and Friday, June 2–3. Produced by the Wilma Dykeman Legacy, the forum brings together environmental experts, economists, humanities scholars and community leaders to explore the intersection of economics and the environment.

Green Money looks at the environment through an economic lens, focusing on convergences between business and conservation interests, but not ignoring flash points between the two perspectives,” says Wilma Dykeman Legacy president Jim Stokely.

The inspiration for the forum began several years ago while Stokely and environmental scientist Michael Fisher were having lunch. Fisher’s discussion of environmental economics issues reminded Stokely of Wilma Dykeman’s groundbreaking 1955 cost/benefit study of a clean French Broad River.

“One of the reasons for Dykeman’s effectiveness as an environmental pioneer in the 1950s was her ability to set arguments for conservation within the realistic frameworks of our economy and our society,” says Stokely.

Green Money consists of 4 two-hour panels, one from 9–11 a.m. and one from 2–4 p.m. each day. Respected academics will present guiding principles for thinking about the environment in an economic way, and local community leaders will share case studies to flesh out the principles. The forum provides an introduction to the growing discipline of environmental economics and clarifies how paying attention to nature can be good for business.

The first panel on Thursday, Natural Costs and Benefits, discusses findings from the Economic Impact Study of the French Broad River and The Political Economy of Forests. UNC Asheville professor and panel moderator Evan Couzo, PhD., will use analogies such as debt accumulation and bathtub inflow/outflow to highlight why early action to reduce carbon emissions is of paramount importance.

“Climate change is an example of an accumulation problem, and, while quite intuitive, such problems are often difficult for us to grasp,” says Couzo.

Valuing the Environment, held Thursday afternoon, includes case studies of Hickory Nut Gap Farm and Buncombe County’s zoning ordinance including steep slopes, high elevations and protected ridges. Policy Choices, on Friday morning, discusses Duke Energy’s power plants and the Blue Horizon Project, and the power and limits of EPA regulations. The final session on Friday afternoon is Climate Change, a look at principles for thinking about the climate crisis. Panelists will approach the topic from both the perspective of environmental ethics and climate data.

“When we talk about climate change, it’s important that we analyze the heterogeneous impacts; the impacts will not be felt equally across populations,” says panelist and UNC Asheville professor Kathleen Lawlor, PhD. “I hope participants leave the forum with a sense of how inequality relates to the climate crisis and I also hope that we can reimagine our economy to promote equality, decarbonization and climate resilience.”

Admission to each panel is $5. To register, visit

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