Linking Environmental Protection and the Human Economy

Four spikes

Four global-scale forces are interacting to change the nature of the world as we know it: greenhouse gas concentrations, consumption, extinction, human population

Greenhouse gases








Per-capita consumption is increasing in U.S.

Positive discount rate (i.e., interest rate) ensures that everything is valued less at a later date than it is valued today, in economic terms

Social classes: about 1 billion of the worlds 6 billion people survive on < $1/day

Human desires and marketing lead to a global-scale tragedy of the commons





Sixth great extinction on earth

Ecological footprint

Homogenization of species composition, cultures, languages as we lose the uncommon ones of each

Ecosystem services: clean air, clean water

Human population




Over three billion years of life driven by procreation

The role of denial

Developing a planetary ethic

According to E.O. Wilson, the world will be run by synthesizers

Will they recognize and account for the links between environmental protection, social justice, and the human economy?

Additional Information:

Agar, N. 2001. Life's Intrinsic Value. Columbia University Press, New York.

Ayres, E. 1999. God's Last Offer. Four Walls Eight Windows, New York.

Cohen, L. (2003) A Consumers Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

Collins, R.M. (2000) More: The Politics of Economic Growth in Postwar America. Oxford University Press, Oxford, England.

de Graaf, J. Wann, D., and Thomas H. Naylor, T.H. (2001) Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco.


EarthRights International

Ehrlich, P.R. (1968) The Population Bomb. Ballantine Books, New York.

Galbraith, J.K. (1958) The Affluent Society. Houghton Mifflin, New York.

Hardin, G. (1993) Living Within Limits: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos. Oxford University Press, Oxford, England.

Huffington, A. (2003) Pigs at the Trough: How Corporate Greed and Political Corruption are Undermining America. Crown Publishers, New Human Rights Watch

Johnston, B.R. editor (1997) Life and Death Matters: Human Rights and the Environment at the End of the Millennium. AltaMira Press, Walnut Creek, California.

Kawachi, I., and Kennedy, B.P. (2002) The Health of Nations: Why Inequality is Harmful to Your Health. The New Press, New York.

Mander, J. (1991) In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco.

Myers, N., and Simon, J.L. (1994) Scarcity or Abundance: A Debate on the Environment. W.W. Norton, New York.

Rosenblatt, R., editor (1999), Consuming Desires: Consumption, Culture, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Island Press, Washington, D.C.

Tucker, R.P. (2000) Insatiable Appetite: The United States and the Ecological Degradation of the Tropical World. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Veblen, T. (1899) The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions. Macmillan, New York.

Wachtel, P.L. (1983) The Poverty of Affluence: A Psychological Portrait of the American Way of Life. Free Press, New York.

United States Census Bureau

Wilson, E.O. 1998. Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge. Knopf, New York.

Wilson, E.O. 2002. The Future of Life. Knopf, New York.