Natural Capital: What is it and what does it mean

When corporations, banks, politicians, and industries talk about “growing the economy”, little, if no, consideration is given to the environment. And let’s face it, without a planet to stand on, there’s nothing to “grow” and the very ones who lay claim to “growing the economy” are no longer going to exist.

In order for such industries to get this hard fact – that very simple one that their organisations are remiss in informing their team(s) of – the term “natural capital” was coined.

Natural capital is a concept that aims to bring the economy and the environment on the same page – as allies for a sustainable future. It refers to the world’s resources including air, water, minerals, soils, fossil fuels and all living things. These resources work together to deliver ecosystem goods and services that in turn provide benefits to society.

The benefits of nature are infinite – everything from food, energy, clean water, air to breathe, the natural decomposition of wastes, the conservation and recycling of essential nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, medicine, pest control, climate regulation, and beautiful areas to visit.

These services matter to people because they provide everything one requires in order to survive and to be able to live comfortably. But because they are “free”, people don’t value them in the same way as they value things they have to pay for.

People including businesses, corporations and politicians are taking, taking, taking and taking more from the planet, and without giving back to complete the cycle of life. The “economic system” was created by-and-large by people who have no connection to nature, and completely disregard it.

Natural resources are being depleted faster than Mother Nature can replenish herself. And so those things that people truly require to survive on this planet are being compromised, for the sake of “growing the economy” and its entities such as mass consumption and consumerism.

Natural capital may be a rather crude way in which to look at Mother Nature and her natural resources, but for those who have a tendency to think of the value of everything in economic terms, such as business people and politicians, this language is for them and so they can begin to understand the importance of nature and start contributing to its preservation. Because if they don’t “get with nature”, that will be their loss, quite literally.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea

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