The standard narrative presents a tale of environmentalists battling proponents of industrial development in a never-ending, irreconcilable, epic confrontation. Compromise is probably undesirable, perpetually unsustainable, and practically impossible. Supporters portray the committed environmentalist as Homo reciprocans, a dedicated public servant advancing a noble goal on behalf of the amorphous public interest in the face of shortsighted, narrow-minded business interests. A legion of detractors presents an alternative view of self-righteous, smug, naïve, impractical idealists pursuing unrealistic, costly, silly goals that fail to consider the needs of a burgeoning population seeking enhanced employment and commercial opportunities. In this accounting, humankind can be thought of as Homo economicus. Captains of industry are mythologized as supplying high-paying, intellectually stimulating jobs, spurring technological innovation that leads to cleaner sources of energy, and ensuring that the United States remains competitive in a ruthlessly global economy. Alternatively, industrialists can be vilified as indiscriminately fouling the environment with little concern for the long-term consequences for nature. The distinctions are explored at greater length in Chapter 3.2

As with any conventional wisdom, the standard narrative is standard for a reason. The central distinction among the schools of thought concerns a fundamental disagreement over the nature of man. Homo reciprocans views the world as interdependent. As much as an individual seeks to maximize his particular self-interest,

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he recognizes he must cooperate with others, even at the risk of losing some of his personal wealth, to ensure the continuation of the community that allows him to transact business. Homo economicus focuses on independence and the rationality of the individual who does not worry about society writ large. He maximizes his own self-interest and leaves broader normative questions for another day.3