Economics and Environmentalism: Belief Systems at Odds
Independent Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, 2012
14 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2013
Date Written: June 1, 2012
Economics and environmentalism are both rooted in deeply held values. This paper shows how their core beliefs are often in basic conflict. This difference is found, for example, in their contrasting ways of thinking about the relationship of human beings and nature. For economists, nature is a “natural resource” which should contribute its part as efficiently as possible to the advancement of total production and consumption in society. For environmentalists, nature has an “intrinsic” value that is independent of any practical usefulness to human beings. The belief systems of economics and environmentalism are also appropriately characterized as secular religions. This paper summarizes some basic themes from Robert H. Nelson, The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion versus Environmental Religion in Contemporary America (Penn State University Press, 2010).
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