UVM Professor One of World’s Top Scholars
Release Date: 10-14-2004
According to a new analysis, Robert Costanza, director of the University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, is one of the world’s top scholars, based on the number of times his published work has been referenced by other scientists in their published works. He has recently been added to the prestigious list of Thomson Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) Highly Cited researchers, and one paper he co-authored, "The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital," which appeared in the May 1997 issue of Nature, has been ranked by Thomson ISI as the second most highly cited work published in the environment/ecology category in the last 10 years.
According to the ISI database (http://isi3.isiknowledge.com), Costanza’s 368 published works, spanning several fields, have been cited more than 2,500 times to date.
The Nature paper had received a total of 530 citations as of August 2004 in articles published in scholarly journals like Science, Nature, and Ecological Economics. This total does not include the many additional citations the paper has received in mainstream media like Newsweek and the New York Times, which are not included in the ISI database.
In an interview published on the Thomson ISI Web site ( http://in-cites.com/papers/DrRobertCostanza.html), Costanza speculates that the paper was so highly referenced because it was “unique in that it not only asserted that ecosystems are important, but quantified how important they are in units (dollars) that were easy to compare with other things that support human welfare.”
The estimate of the value of earth’s ecosystems Costanza and his co-authors arrived at was $33 trillion per year, a number “greater than global GNP,” Costanza says.
While the paper sparked criticism from some traditional economists, it also greatly enhanced the idea among researchers from many fields that the services provided by earth’s ecosystems – from the flood protection wetlands provide, for instance, to tropical rainforests’ sequestration of CO2 in biomass – have economic value. “The environment/ecology field has embraced the concept of ecosystem services as a way to effectively make the link between ecosystem functioning and human welfare.”
One of the greatest values of the paper, Costanza says, is in its demonstration of transdisciplinary synthesis as an approach to science. “Analysis and synthesis are two sides of the same coin, but science has underutilized synthesis as a way to convert data into usable knowledge.”
The Nature paper is also featured in a profile of Costanza just published in the September/October issue of Adbusters magazine. The magazine names him a “revolutionary economist,” an honor it also accords such luminaries as E.F. Schumacher, Kenneth Boulding, Herman Daly, Jeffrey Sachs, Paul Krugman, Lester Brown, Amory Lovins, Paul Hawken, and Joseph Stiglitz. CDAE assistant professor Josh Farley, also of the Gund Institute, is among the "rising stars” named by the magazine.
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