chapter  7
15 Pages

Natural Capital

Approximately half of all humans now live in cities; by 2040, it will be 80 per cent. As people move away from the land, they become less and less mindful of the degree to which we are still totally dependent upon the natural world for energy, resources, food, fibre, water and so on. One way of describing that bounty from nature is ‘natural capital’ – and the way in which we now manage that natural capital is the biggest single determinant of whether a better life awaits us or a very much grimmer one. Unfortunately, most politicians have little understanding of our continuing dependence upon the natural world and have therefore ignored those pioneering economists who have been warning them for decades of the danger of not valuing nature properly. A huge amount of work is now being done to remove these political blinkers (for instance, in terms of assessing the hard-edged economic value of protecting species and habitats), reasserting in the process the critical significance of effective environmental regulation and planning systems that do, indeed, find effective ways of putting nature first.