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Beyond the environmentalist's paradox and the debate on weak versus strong sustainability

Ang, F. and Van Passel, S. (2012) Beyond the environmentalist's paradox and the debate on weak versus strong sustainability. BioScience, 62 (3). pp. 251-259. ISSN 1525-3244

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1525/bio.2012.62.3.6

Abstract/Summary

Environmentalists generally argue that ecological damage will (eventually) lead to declines in human well-being. From this perspective, the recent introduction of the “environmentalist’s paradox” in BioScience by Raudsepp-Hearne and colleagues (2010) is particularly significant. In essence, Raudsepp-Hearne and colleagues (2010) claimed that although ecosystem services have been degraded, human well-being—paradoxically—has increased. In this article, we show that this debate is in fact rooted in a broader discussion on weak sustainability versus strong sustainability(the substitutability of human-made capital for natural capital). We warn against the reductive nature of focusing only on a stock–flow framework in which a natural-capital stock produces ecosystem services. Concretely, we recommend a holistic approach in which the complexity, irreversibility, uncertainty, and ethical predicaments intrinsic to the natural environment and its connections to humanity are also considered.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Economic and Social Sciences Division > Farm Management Unit
ID Code:38645
Uncontrolled Keywords:ecology; natural resources; assessments; sustainability
Publisher:American Institute of Biological Sciences

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