The Ecological Tyranny of the Bottom Line

“The Ecological Tyranny of the Bottom Line: The Environmental and Social Consequences of Economic Reductionism,” Richard Hofrichter, ed, Reclaiming the Environmental Debate; The Politics of Health in a Toxic Culture (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000), pp. 135-53.

In recent decades environmentalists have directed a persistent ecological critique at economics, contending that economics has failed to value the natural world. Lately economists have begun to respond to this critique, and a rapidly growing sub discipline of environmental economics has emerged that is dedicated to placing economic values on nature and integrating the environment more fully into the market system. However, the question arises: Is the cure more dangerous than the disease? Does the attempt to internalize the natural environment within the capitalist market system-without a radical transformation of the latter-lead to a new empire of the economy over ecology, a sort of neocolonialism where the old colonialism is no longer seen as sufficient? And what are the ultimate consequences of this?


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