John Baden

Founder of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE), located in Bozeman, Montana. Baden and his wife, Prof. Ramona Marotz-Baden, are skiers and cyclists.  They manage a productive ranch in the Gallatin Valley of Montana and enjoy active and happy lives.

John A. Baden is founder of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE), located in Bozeman, Montana. 

Baden’s Ph.D. in economic anthropology, Indiana University in 1969, was followed by an NSF post-doc in environmental economics and policy.  He was a leader in developing the New Resource Economics, focusing on the “romance” portion of environmental management, mainly parks, open lands, waters, and wildlife. He has produced ten books and many articles on energy and natural resources. 

Baden is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society, served two terms on the  , and was president of the Association of Private Enterprise Education. He founded the Environmental Management M.B.A. program at the University of Washington.

Baden and his wife, Prof. Ramona Marotz-Baden, are skiers and cyclists.  They manage a productive ranch in the Gallatin Valley of Montana and enjoy active and happy lives.

Protecting Our Natural Surroundings

Protecting Our Natural Surroundings

I divide environmental topics into two sometimes overlapping groups, “romance” and “sludge.” The romance sector includes parks, forests, wildlands, wilderness, wildlife, and scenic vistas. These treasures grace calendars and coffee table books. Most educated and comfortable adults, even committed urbanites, are attracted to and want to protect this sector.

The second division is sludge. This term refers to nasty stuff that is often the necessary byproduct of legitimate productive activities such as food processing, mining, and manufacturing. These are spillovers from legitimate and useful activities.Economists call this category negative externalities. They ask: How might we efficiently reduce them—or even better, convert them into useful products?

That’s exactly what environmental entrepreneurs did when they converted the wood waste and scrap from lumber mills into valuable wood panels. Those panels replaced plywood—which had replaced boards formerly cut from old growth trees. Lesson here? In a market process economy, superior substitutes naturally evolve.

We can’t live without some sludge; it’s inherent in living and using products from the earth. While recognizing this, I choose to work in the romance arena. Had I elected to focus on sludge, I’d live in Boston and study its harbor. Instead, I live on a ranch between Bozeman and Yellowstone Park and study my surrounding habitat. Thus, I work in the tradition of America’s first conservationists.

America’s old-line conservation organizations were primarily concerned with the romance sector of their environment, largely with protecting wildlife.

John A. Baden

John A. Baden

Founder of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE), located in Bozeman, Montana. Baden and his wife, Prof. Ramona Marotz-Baden, are skiers and cyclists.  They manage a productive ranch in the Gallatin Valley of Montana and enjoy active and happy lives.