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Restoring Nature to Economics

Human economic activity makes extensive use of the ecosystem services nature provides, but these barely feature in measurements of GDP. It is vital to restore nature to economic analysis and policy before the damage to the natural world – and thus to everybody’s standard of living – becomes irreparable.

CAMBRIDGE – “This land is your land,” sang the American folk singer Woody Guthrie, listing the redwood forests, wheat fields, and golden valleys of the United States. Guthrie was making a moral claim that everyone should be able to share in the riches of the land. But his song also highlights the economic truth that the use of natural resources affects everyone. In particular, if we deplete or irreversibly degrade them, the economic consequences affect all of us and future generations.