Are We One Step Closer to Pricing Nature?


The tragedy of the commons in action.

One of the most perverse tenets of the economic model that most of the globe adheres to is that extracting natural resources or doing damage to ecosystems is “free”. Bottled water companies don’t pay for the water they extract, lumber outfits don’t pay for the trees they chop down, automakers don’t pay for the air pollution they generate, Big Oil doesn’t pay for the oil it extracts, and so on and so forth. This problem, known as the tragedy of the commons, is one that’s been an ugly thorn in capitalism’s side from the get-go. For the most part, we deal with it by imposing restrictions on how much companies can pollute, creating environmental protection agencies to enforce such restrictions, and by designating nature preserves to shield nature from corporate claws. But it’s not working…

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