Win-Win Ecology: How the Earth's Species Can Survive in the Midst of Human Enterprise

By Michael L. Rosenzweig | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Hidden Costs

You arent't too good with the truth, either, Your species…. I can see there might be a positive side to theis wilful averting of the eye: ignoring the bad things makes it easier for you to carry on. But ignoring the bad things makes You end up believing that bad things never happen. You are always surprised by them. It surprises you that guns kill, that money corrupts, that snow falls in winter. Such naüvety can be charming; alas, it can also be perilous.

Julian Barnes 1

When a skillful graduate of the Wharton School tackles the job of projecting profits for her agribusiness, she ignores lots of things. No, she is not trying to dodge taxes. She is simply doing her job well. Her company's profits depend entirely on the money actually paid out or received. In contrast, those profits have nothing to do with various hidden environmental subsidies. She may not even be aware of the subsidies, and her company may not be either. She does not worry about these subsidies only because her outfit never gets billed for them. Nevertheless, they are as real as depreciation.

Let's look at just one of these environmental subsidies: the soil gift. Agriculture thrives on the rich, deep topsoils of mid-North America. Those soils grow grains aplenty and feed us more cheaply than any other

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