What's In Your "Wealth of Nations?"

“We have finally come to understand that the real wealth of a nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity. Take this resource base away, and all that is left is a wasteland. That’s the whole economy. That is where all the economic activity and all the jobs come from. These biological systems contain the sustaining wealth of the world. All around the planet these systems are under varying degrees of stress and degradation in almost all places, including the United States. As we continue to degrade them, we’re consuming our capital. And, in the process, we erode living standards and compromise the quality of our habitat. We’re veering down a dangerous path. We are not just toying with nature; we are compromising the capacity of natural systems to do what they need to do to preserve a livable world. We can – and must – forge a sustainable society, but it will take more vigorous leadership in the future. Fortunately, the ranks of the concerned and committed are rapidly expanding. The ultimate goal is to nurture a society imbued with a guiding environmental ethic. The ethic has been evolving, and ultimately, it will save us from many costly blunders. The British jurist, Lord Moulton, summarized the matter in one sentence – ‘The measure of a civilization is the degree of its compliance with the enforceable.’ That is our goal.”

Senator Gaylord Nelson
Earth Day 2000

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