Economists Owe Ecology an Apology

22 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2013 Last revised: 10 Oct 2013

See all articles by David Zetland

David Zetland

Leiden University - Leiden University College

Date Written: August 1, 2013


This apology is neither a wholesale rejection of economic thought and perspective nor an admission of error in our understanding of ecological values or human impacts on the environment. Life is complex. It's an apology for the unintended damage that's resulted from misapplying economic ideas: GDP fails to include non-market costs and benefits; transaction-based models mischaracterize dynamic relationships; aggregate social efficiency overlooks distribution impacts; technological advances can have substantial, unmeasured environmental impacts.

Keywords: Ecology, mathematical economics, scientism, GDP

JEL Classification: A1, B41, C5, Q2

Suggested Citation

Zetland, David, Economists Owe Ecology an Apology (August 1, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

David Zetland (Contact Author)

Leiden University - Leiden University College ( email )

P.O. Box 13228
Den Haag, 2501EE

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