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William Stanley Jevons' The Coal Question (1865), beyond the rebound effect

Abstract : Before his major 1870s economic writings, William Stanley Jevons wrote in 1865 his first important book entitled 'The Coal Question'. Jevons displays an interest for the problem of resource depletion, and some opportunism linked to the treatment of a subject in vogue at the time. 'The Coal Question' is retrospectively essentially known for having pointed out the first bases of what we call today the rebound effect, known as well as the "Jevons' paradox". No one can deny the major contribution Jevons did by insisting on the energy efficiency paradoxical phenomenon. However, this is not the only interesting idea proposed in 'The Coal Question'. This article aims at drawing a larger framework of the ideas developed by Jevons, looking at some specific points that testify to his position as a turning point in the history of environmental studies. We see that Jevons expresses a desire of emancipation from both natural sciences and engineering, yet without ignoring the necessity of interdisciplinary perspectives to deal with environmental matters. It places Jevons as a pioneer of several modern approaches towards environmental economics, including ecological economics.
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Antoine Missemer. William Stanley Jevons' The Coal Question (1865), beyond the rebound effect. Ecological Economics, Elsevier, 2012, 82, pp.97-103. ⟨10.1016/j.ecolecon.2012.07.010⟩. ⟨halshs-00738258⟩

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