Detaching Nature from Economics is ‘Burning the Library of Life’
- Kamran Mofid
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‘Yet the narrator’s silence risks becoming a collusion in the silence of a world happier to ignore what has been transacted; the dead must, after all, be named, or else the reality,the weight of their living and their terrible dying is set aside for the sake of our illusory comfort.’-Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, and the 35th Master of Magdalene College, University of Cambridge
David Quammen’s The Song of the Dodo deploys silence as a sign of something amiss in the world around us:
‘We are facing a global crisis. We are totally dependent upon the natural world. It supplies us with every oxygen-laden breath we take and every mouthful of food we eat. But we are currently damaging it so profoundly that many of its natural systems are now on the verge of breakdown. Every other animal living on this planet, of course, is similarly dependent. But in one crucial way, we are different. We can change not just the numbers, but the very anatomy of the animals and plants that live around us. We acquired that ability, doubtless almost unconsciously, some ten thousand years ago, when we had ceased wandering and built settlements for ourselves. It was then that we started to modify other animals and plants…
‘Economics is a discipline that shapes decisions of the utmost consequence, and so matters to us all. The Dasgupta Review at last puts biodiversity at its core and provides the compass that we urgently need. In doing so, it shows us how, by bringing economics and ecology together, we can help save the natural world at what may be the last minute- and in doing so, save ourselves.’- These are the opening and the concluding paragraphs of The Foreword by Sir David Attenborough to a landmark study ‘The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review’ published February 2021.
‘We are embedded in Nature” and “nature is more than a mere economic good’
‘Nature nurtures and nourishes us, so we will think of assets as durable entities
that not only have use value, but may also have intrinsic worth’
The Dasgupta Review calls for urgent and transformative change in how we think, act and measure
economic success to protect and enhance our prosperity and the natural world.
'It’s time to say farewell to one of the biggest and longest running myths in the economy: that social development must come at the cost of nature.
That this dichotomy is false has long been articulated and promoted by the conservation movement, but to little avail.
Around the world, countries and businesses have continued to empty natural resources for short-term economic profit.
Now, more than ever, someone needed to tell them this cannot continue – but who would they listen to?
This is where the Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity comes in.’- Prof. Alexandre Antonelli, Director of Science at Kew Gardens
Nature is our Greatest Life Asset
Photo: The Conversation
‘To detach nature from economic reasoning is to imply that we consider ourselves to be external to nature.’
'Our economies, livelihoods and wellbeing all depend on our most precious asset: nature. We are part of nature, not separate from it.'
These are the opening lines of a newly published landmark review of the economics of biodiversity.
The Economics of biodiversity review: what are the recommendations?
Photo: What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us?/ Via The Guardian
First and foremost: The report recommends that ‘GDP should be ditched as a measure of wealth and nature valued to protect wildlife and humans. The use of GDP “is based on a faulty application of economics” because it measures the flow of money, not the stock of national assets. Introducing natural capital into national accounting systems would be a critical step.’
Then the report notes that: ‘Instilling an appreciation of nature through education is vital in a rapidly urbanising world. The discipline to draw on nature sustainably must, ultimately, be provided by us as individuals. Many people have grown distant from nature. Our education systems should introduce nature studies from the earliest stages of our lives, and revisit them in secondary and tertiary education.’-- WOW! This is music to my ears!
Before I proceed further, I must note my happiness and joy of reading the two vitally important recommendations above, which have occupied my mind, my heart and my research over the last couple of decades. I have noted these in detail elsewhere. For the purpuse of now and this posting it suffices to note the following:
The madness of the never ending economic growth
We have to look beyond the madness: we should invest in everyday services to create a society run for collective good
The Growth Delusion and Confusion, The GDP Measurement: lies, damned lies and statistics
We must do better, much better. Why?
Re-Connecting the World’s Children and Young People with Nature
‘When there is no Mother Nature Present- There is no Balanced, Values-led Education’
'Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.'- Aristotle
Young children play on a tree on Hampstead Heath, London. Four out of five children in the UK
are not adequately'connected to nature'.- Photo: Gregory Wrona /Alamy/Via The Guardian
‘In all my academic life, spanning over four decades, I have been dismayed, frustrated and overwhelmed with pain to notice that our education model has not embraced the beauty and the wisdom of our mother nature and our sacred earth, incorporating them into the teaching curriculum.
This, to my mind, has seriously deprived the students, our future leaders, or indeed, our current leaders, to get a wholesome, values-led education, and thus, has prevented them, to vision and implement policies to heal our world, to better our lives.’- Kamran Mofid
And now continuing with the Economics of biodiversity review: what are the main recommendations?
‘The world is being put at “extreme risk” by the failure of economics to take account of the rapid depletion of the natural world and needs to find new measures of success to avoid a catastrophic breakdown, a landmark review has concluded…
‘Prosperity was coming at a “devastating cost” to the ecosystems that provide humanity with food, water and clean air. Radical global changes to production, consumption, finance and education were urgently needed’
‘’The review urges the world’s governments to come up with a different form of national accounting from GDP and use one that includes the depletion of natural resources. It would like to see an understanding of nature given as prominent a place in education as the “three Rs”, to end people’s distance from nature.
‘Nature is our home. Good economics demands we manage it better,” said Dasgupta. “Truly sustainable economic growth and development means recognising that our long-term prosperity relies on rebalancing our demand of nature’s goods and services with its capacity to supply them. It also means accounting fully for the impact of our interactions with nature. Covid-19 has shown us what can happen when we don’t do this.’
‘Humanity’s impact on the natural world is stark, with animal populations having dropped by an average of 68% since 1970 and forest destruction continuing at pace – some scientists think a sixth mass extinction of life is under way and accelerating. Today, just 4% of the world’s mammals are wild, hugely outweighed by humans and their livestock.’
‘The report said almost all governments were exacerbating the biodiversity crisis by paying people more to exploit nature than to protect it. A conservative estimate of the global cost of subsidies that damage nature was about $4tn-$6tn (£2.9-£4.4tn) a year, it said. “Humanity faces an urgent choice. Continuing down our current path presents extreme risks and uncertainty for our economies.” the review said.
Photo: Dream world painting by Jacek Yerka webneel.com