On the Foundations of Environmental Policy
Advances in Ecological Economics series
∗ with Harald Dyckhoﬀ and John Proops 1.1 Introduction Human existence is unthinkable without its relationship to nature. This relationship is twofold. On the one hand, humans depend in a variety of ways on nature and the services it provides. Examples include resources such as water, food and fuels; functions such as the regulation of climate, ﬂoods and diseases; cultural services such as recreation as well as aesthetic and spiritual fulﬁlment; and the space for unfolding all kinds of human activity. On the other hand, human activity impacts the natural environment: humans intentionally shape their natural environment to form their space of living; they take resource materials from, and release substances into, natural ecosystems; and in so doing they alter natural processes and functions. The imperative of sustainability requires sustaining nature’s functioning and services for humans over the long run. So, the relationship between humans and nature must be of a certain quality. This poses a challenge for how humans should act towards nature. The challenge has many facets which have to be addressed when studying the relationship between humans and nature, and when developing recommendations for sustainable policy: • There is an inextricable interaction of processes from the natural sphere, traditionally analysed by the natural sciences; the social and economic sphere, traditionally analysed by the social sciences; and categories of human thinking, which is the domain of philosophy. This requires an interdisciplinary approach. ∗ Sections 1.2–1.6 are based on Baumg¨rtner, Dyckhoﬀ, Faber, Proops and Schiller a (2001). 1 2...