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Emerging Science: ‘Ecological Economics’

Instability in our global economic and natural systems is shining a light on strategies to improve their long term sustainability. One such approach is Ecological Economics, which Robert Costanza (Portland State University’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions) explains in his article 'What is Ecological Economics?':

In ecological economics, natural capital is added to the typical capital asset analysis of land, labor, and financial capital. Ecological economics uses tools from mathematical economics, but may apply them more closely to the natural world. Whereas mainstream economists tend to be technological optimists, ecological economists are inclined to be technological pessimists. They reason that the natural world has a limited carrying capacity and that its resources may run out. Since destruction of important environmental resources could be practically irreversible and catastrophic, ecological economists are inclined to justify cautionary measures based on the precautionary principle.

Costanza and Jon Erickson (University of Vermont’s Gund Institute) explore these idea further in the documentary above to answer the age-old economic question:

How do we allocate scarce resources to create alternative desirable ends?