“Kill all the bees!!”, the modest proposal of Prof. Paul Sutton from University of South Australia is a provocative attempt to convince economic rationalists to finally start counting what really counts.
If all the bees were to go extinct we will have to replace them by, for example, hand-pollinating our crops. That means employment, economic growth in terms of GDP and tax revenues: very good for the Economy.
Now, the fact that not many economists will actually support this policy does not change the fact that if all the bees are going to be gone then GDP would actually rise, jobs would actually be created as well as tax revenues.
This is a market failure too big to be ignored! We need to “abandon magical thinking about free markets and invisible hands … and develop appropriate worldviews that are broader than the narrow economic worldview we are currently trapped in”. The services provided by healthy ecosystems should be considered too big to fail, just like the big banks.
Environmental scientists have lost an argument with economic rationalists. The evaluation of ecosystem services strives to use a common language between environmental sciences and economics.
Economists are the primary advisors of governments. We need environmental scientists with the same decisional power to face future challenges deriving from our current model of infinite growth on a finite planet.
Luca Coscieme, coscieml[at]tcd.ie