Ecological Economics 101: The Real Costs of Living

In the age of Covid-19, large cities have turned into giant prisons, with billions of people ‘stuck’ in their houses. The almighty economy that took ten years to recover from the last global crisis crumbled in a matter of weeks. And evident by fights over toilet paper in grocery stores, our societal fabric may be no more than a sheet of transparent saran-wrap after all. We must be asking ourselves by now how can we avoid this in the future? In this new series, we’ll explore how expensive our current ‘growth at all costs’ economic model is, starting with a basic ‘crash course’ in Ecological Economics and a lesson in the real costs of living.

I’ve been thinking about creating this series for a while now. I wanted to find ways to bring my perspective as an environmental scientist to other walks of my life. This includes my growing interest in economics, personal finance and, of course, this blog.

But until Covid-19 disrupted virtually everyone’s lives, costing societies trillions of dollars, many of these discussions still seemed abstract and esoteric. But with Covid-19 now firmly in the spotlight, it seems like a suitable time to highlight the costs of discounting the services provided by healthy ecosystems, often not understanding their full value until it is too late. The things we do – including the lifestyles we choose – all have an impact. All come at a cost – a cost to the taxpayer (financial capital), a cost to yours or your neighbours’ welfare (social capital) or a cost to the environment (natural capital).

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