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Changing the Way We View Humanity and the Rest of Nature

November 13, 2011 |

“This special issue of Solutions is devoted to the idea of ecosystem services—the benefits humans derive from our shared “natural capital” assets, including everything from climate regulation to water supply to pollination to cultural amenities.

The idea that preserving the environment is an asset, rather than an impediment, to economic growth and development is both very old and very new. For most of human history, at least until the start of the Industrial Revolution, the benefits humans derived from nature were well recognized and embedded in various cultural rules and norms. Parts of forests, lakes, or mountains were often deemed sacred and off-limits. But it is no coincidence that these sacred natural assets also supplied essential life-support services for the communities involved.

This is in stark contrast to the postindustrial view in much of the Western world that nature is merely a pretty picture—nice to enjoy if you can afford it but not essential to the more important business of growing the economy. Whenever the issue of conservation of nature has entered the public or political discussion, it has always been purported to come at a cost, and the discussion has been framed as “the environment vs. the economy…””

Read on at: The Solutions Journal.

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