Nowadays there is a heated debate about how much damage to the nature is acceptable in order for us to have a ‘thriving’ economy.
The caption says: “If you really think that economy is more important than nature then try holding your breath while counting your money”.
If we look a little deeper into all this we find out that initially economy – or oikonomia in ancient Greek – was the art of managing the resources needed by a household. Since then these resources came directly from the surrounding nature it ‘naturally follows’ that in those times there was no conflict between economy and nature: people took what ever they needed from where it grew or grazed, threw the garbage wherever around the camps and whenever things became too messy or the pastures/hunting grounds were exhausted people moved a little further, giving the nature an opportunity to heal its otherwise superficial wounds.
Later, as people moved into cities, their relationship with the nature became a little more complicated. If nature had a way of renewing itself periodically all went well. Egypt survives since 5000 years ago mainly because the Nile periodically cleanses and fertilizes the country. If not, and people overuses local resources, the fate of that particular civilization is doomed – the Mayan empire, for example.
A sudden change happened around three hundred years ago: Europeans simultaneously learned advanced agricultural techniques enabling them to feed larger numbers of people, thus freeing a lot of ‘ work force’ that was swiftly employed by the industry, and invented fiat money – paper invested with value by the very entity that ‘printed’ it, the central banks.
‘Economy’ started to thrive only it no longer was about the old struggle for survival; it was gradually transformed into the modern economy: a playing ground where the ruthless fight for more and more money is constantly eating away both natural resources and the moral fiber of those implied in it.
Maybe it is high time for us to understand what is going on and to find a way to reintegrate nature into the economy as a resource that needs to last forever and not as an expendable one.