Environmental economist

    Abbie Rogers

    Economics
    Abbie stresses that people want to see more environmental responsibility in the decisions that are made. Image: UWA

    Abbie Rogers puts a dollar value on the benefits of environmental conservation

    Abbie had never heard of environmental economics when she began her degree in natural resource management at the University of Western Australia (UWA). She just knew she had a passion for the environment.

    A PhD and several years later, she is now Co-Director of the UWA Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy and an expert environmental economist.

    A topic Abbie is passionate about is the problem of erosion and inundation around the Australian coastline due to climate change and other human activities. She has conducted surveys and research for government departments looking at better ways to solve this problem.

    “When we have an erosion hotspot, people might build a seawall or cart in some sand,” Abbie says. “But they’re often temporary, expensive measures and they’re not necessarily the most beneficial from an environmental perspective.”

    Instead, Abbie assigns monetary value to benefits that can’t be bought or sold – like beach visits or wildlife viewing. She can then evaluate the costs and benefits of different solutions fairly.

    One alternative solution to coastal erosion is restoring reefs. “If you put an ecosystem back in place or restore it to some sort of good quality, you get that coastal protection benefit – slowing down the wave movements, protecting the infrastructure on the coast,” she explains.

    “But you also potentially create opportunities for ecotourism, recreational fishing, commercial fishing, carbon sequestration, as well as the environmental benefit of the ecosystem being healthy and functioning.”

    Abbie thinks environmental economics is growing in importance, increasingly recognised by government and the private sector as a key tool for making decisions.

    “People want to see more environmental responsibility in the decisions that are made,” she says.

    Abbie’s pathway

    • Bachelor of Science (Natural Resource Management), UWA
    • PhD (Environmental Economics), UWA
    • Co-Director, Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy, UWA

    This article originally appears in the flip cover of Careers with STEM: Maths & Data 2022 – Careers with STEM: Economics.

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    Ben Skuse

    Author: Ben Skuse

    Ben Skuse is a UK-based former mathematician turned professional science writer, who has written for the Careers with STEM magazines for over 5 years. You can follow him on Twitter @BenSkuseSciComm.

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