Conserving nature is like money in the bank
Ask folks what they value about nature and most would probably be quick to mention aesthetic and spiritual properties like beauty, serenity and peace. We hold these values dear to our hearts because they resonate with strong emotional ties. But there are other, even more pragmatic, reasons to value nature - reasons even a hard-headed economist can't deny.
As I discussed in my last column, we've lost touch with the fact that everything we have depends on nature. Without the rest of nature propping us up, we could not survive - a fact so obvious that it seems silly to point it out. The problem is, we don't behave as though this were obvious. We behave as though the economy is completely separate from the world in which we live. Industrialized society is geared entirely towards output - how many Playstations, SUVs and cans of Pepsi we can create, sell and consume. What aren't factored into the equation are the natural services needed to support this output. Why? Because nature's services are considered free.
And in a standard economic sense, they are free. Nature is the source of clean air, water and fertile soil with no strings attached. However, with six billion of us now shuffling up to nature's buffet, the "all you can eat" sign will have to come down soon or those at the back of the line - the next generation - will be left with nothing but Jell-O salad.
Exactly, David. Exactly. You're right on the money on this one : natural resources are not efficiently managed because they are free, i.e. they are collectively owned. Privatizing as much of the resources of the planet as possible is the only way to avoid environmental catastrophe.
Or is this really what you meant? Well, probably not, but I don't care! I'm using you to further the market-anarchist agenda anyway.You'll be proud someday, you'll see...