A balancing act between nature and the economy
The economy and nature today – what sort of changes can we expect in the future?
Economics – the branch of knowledge concerned with the production of wealth
Traditionally, the aim of economics has been to manage the limited available assets we have in the best possible way to meet the needs of humanity and society at large. The production, consumption, circulation and transfer of wealth are the system’s founding pillars. If we are to behave in line with the principles of the economy, then we have to behave in a rational and sensible manner, work efficiently and, at the end of the day, always pursue the main goal of increasing wealth.
Ecology – the branch of biology concerned with the correlation of living beings and their surroundings
Ecology studies the correlations between living beings – people, animals, plants, and microorganisms – and the environment – air, water, soil, and the climate. In ecology, every single element is described as an “eco-factor” and living and inanimate eco-factors are at the heart of a community known as an ecosystem. Over the centuries, humanity has learnt how to leverage nature, and has acknowledged the importance of a well-functioning and healthy ecosystem.
The trade-off between the economy and nature
Economics always pursues the utmost maximation of profits. In the long run this represents a giant problem for the wellbeing of the environment and nature. If we are always looking to outsource production to the cheapest locations on the planet, we will continue to ship animals and good to evermore remote corners of the Earth. Nature never has a say throughout the entire process. If we do not readdress the balance between nature and the economy, the negative knock-on effects for everyone on the planet will have untold consequences.
Making profits while nurturing nature
Over the years, countless countries and companies have committed themselves to an economic goal which allows them to make monkey while contributing to the betterment of the environment. Nowadays, even consumers will look at the values and green aspects of a product or company before purchasing something on their weekly grocery run. Social and environmental responsibility and sustainable economic targets have increasingly made space for themselves in the economic system. The same applies to the food industry. A study called “Nachhaltigkeit in der Ernährungsbranche” (Sustainability in the food industry) was carried out by the DNV Foundation (Det Norske Veritas) from Essen in cooperation with the Agriculture Faculty of Bonn University. Its results are crystal clear: the majority of sourced ingredients, 38%, is regional; 30% is sourced nationally and 32% is sourced from around the rest of the world.
Ecological agriculture is different because it steps away from traditional growing methods and makes use of the environment and natural resources in a careful and conscientious way. It aims to make a profit while respecting nature. We will have to shift the paradigm in the long-term and focus on using renewable energies in our economy as well as in our everyday life as consumers. Our aim will have to be to use the soil, air, and water only to the point where nature can replenish them and, in turn, heal the damage caused by manmade pollutants.