Economists and Ecology: Lessons from History

By Sophie Boutillier

Economic science was born officially in 1776 with Adam Smith, while ecology was born in 1866 with E. Haeckel. However, economists did not become really interested in this subject until the 1960s and 1970s, when the drawbacks of industrialization and of innovation multiplied. History shows that pollution is not a new problem. Since the dawn of humanity, the exploitation of physical resources has had negative impacts on the environment. In a context of scarce resources, the main issue was to produce, thus making labor the main source of wealth. When the consumer society appeared early in the 20th century, production stopped being an issue as utility value replaced labor value.


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