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Economics as if the Earth mattered

For far too long there has been a gigantic disconnect between things economic and things environmental.   It’s been portrayed as a one sided image with humans living in an economy as if it is totally divorced from the ecology within which it resides, an invention of human society. Economics has always been dependent for all its inputs and outputs on the raw materials provided by the earth. Could it be that things are about to change. Let’s hope so. Here’s an example of a shift in thinking that might get some traction with the business and economic powerbrokers who have overseen so much destruction and extinction to date. 

In, Economics has helped to destroy the environment. Can it be used to save it? business reporter Gareth Hutchens (ABC News, Mon 28 Nov 2022) writes that Australia is on the verge of having the world’s first national accounting system that tracks the health of a country’s natural environment, according to former Treasury secretary Ken Henry.  His key points are: 

  • The Burnett Mary Regional Group in Queensland has completed Australia’s first large-scale environmental audit
  • Dr Ken Henry says it could revolutionise the market system
  • It could lead to the world’s first national environmental account
  • It may help to solve one of the most urgent problems facing humanity: how to reverse global environmental destruction.

“I think this is a game changer, I really do,” he told the ABC. “What we’ve done for the first time anywhere in the world at regional scale is to make an assessment, an audit if you like, of the environmental condition of the landscape.

“We’ve now demonstrated that it can be done … and there is intense interest from financial markets people in seeing whether it’s possible to commercialise this data, in the form of a biodiversity credit for example, and it looks like there is the possibility to do so.”

Dr Henry said it will hopefully lead to future business profit-making also regenerating the planet.

“After all, almost all of human activity on earth rests one way or another upon the condition of the natural environment, and if we don’t address the deterioration of the natural environment sometime pretty damn soon, the rest of it’s going to come crashing down,” he told the ABC.

Read the full story at Economics