Ecological Economist

Demonstrate how ecosystems impact economies.

What does an Ecological Economist do?

Economists have studied the flow of value and money in human society for centuries, but only recently have a small group of Economists sought to develop a specialty in ecological economics, with a view toward studying, measuring, and eventually predicting the dynamic relationships between human economies and our planet’s natural ecosystems.

As an Ecological Economist, you consider ordinary economics to be merely a subsystem of the entire planetary ecosystem. For the most part, as an Ecological Economist you favor sustainability and preservation of the environment. You also grant little support to such traditional economic ideas as cost-benefit analysis, in part because you believe that neither costs nor benefits can be accurately predicted beyond a relatively short-term period. Instead, Ecological Economists prefer to study the large-scale flows of energy, materials, and services that enter a particular economic system, and the outflows that later result.

Because the discipline is still in its early stages, you study the contributions to the body of ecological economic knowledge made by specialists from a wide variety of other fields. You study the details of economic-environmental relationships; chart flows of energy and material; measure the sustainability of various human activities; assess intangibles like environmental quality; and work toward proving, disproving, or revising ecological theories of economic development.

The academic field of ecological economics is still developing a generally accepted theoretical framework, so you most commonly focus on such basic issues as understanding systems within nature and balancing intergenerational equity. You also struggle to prove or disprove that environmental change is irreversible, and argue about whether Scientists can or cannot pinpoint the long-term results of any individual environmental change.