Health of economy, Earth go hand-in-hand

(This letter was published in the Chapel Hill News, 20 September 2006.)

In newspapers worldwide, seven days a week, we find the presentation of the wealth of the world economy by means of an array of economic indicators. We can see that economic globalization is carefully tracked and watched over.

The interlocking national economies of the world economy are also significant to us because economic systems are impressive, distinctly human inventions. The global economy is not a part of the natural world per se, nor does it operate like the economy of nature, but rather is an artificially designed, human construction.

Can you think of anything on the surface of Earth that could be even more important than the success of the economy? There are some things that come immediately to my mind: the integrity of the living Earth, the preservation of its biodiversity, and adequately functioning ecosystems. There can be no such thing as successful economic globalization if there is not a healthy planet from which it can derive resources and services.

Our children are taught that the economy is supported by the natural world in the sense that it and living things depend upon nature for existence. They learn that the human species depends on the Earth for its survival, too. There cannot be a healthy economy without natural resources and ecosystem services.

In light of these understandings there is an unmet need for data to be provided daily by the mass media regarding environmental health, such as ecologic indicators that give humanity reliable ideas about the health of the world in which we live.

If there can be no such thing as a successful economy without a healthy Earth, then more economic investment in ecologic indicators is timely and makes good sense. Let us invite the captains of economic globalization to make direct investments in the development and use of ecologic indicators that do as much to monitor and assess the health of this small planet as the economic indicators do to measure the value and status of the human economy.

Steven Earl Salmony,
Chapel Hill

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