"It suits governments to let us trash the planet. It's not just that big business gains more than it loses from converting natural wealth into money. A continued expansion into the biosphere permits states to avoid addressing issues of distribution and social justice: the promise of perpetual growth dulls our anger about widening inequality. By trampling over nature we avoid treading on the toes of the powerful.
"As soon as something is measurable it becomes negotiable. Subject the natural world to cost-benefit analysis and accountants and statisticians will decide which parts of it we can do without. All that now needs to be done to demonstrate that an ecosystem can be junked is to show that the money to be made from trashing it exceeds the money to be made from preserving it. That, in the weird world of environmental economics, isn't hard: ask the right statistician and he'll give you any number you want.
"This approach reduces the biosphere to a subsidiary of the economy. In reality it's the other way round. The economy, like all other human affairs, hangs from the world's living systems. You can see this diminution in the language TEEB reports use: they talk of 'natural capital stock', of 'underperforming natural assets' and 'ecosystem services'. Nature is turned into a business plan, and we are reduced to its customers. The market now owns the world."
- George Monbiot, "We've been conned. The deal to save the natural world never happened".At stake in this discussion is a very important question that divides responses to ecological crises: can the logic of capitalism be a force for ecological good? Or does expanding the logic of the market into every sphere of life ultimately end up destroying everything? Is capitalism King Midas?