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1 March 2012 Beyond the Environmentalist's Paradox and the Debate on Weak versus Strong Sustainability
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Abstract

Environmentalists generally argue that ecological damage will (eventually) lead to declines in human well-being. From this perspective, the recent introduction of the “environmentalist's paradox” in BioScience by Raudsepp-Hearne and colleagues (2010) is particularly significant. In essence, Raudsepp-Hearne and colleagues (2010) claimed that although ecosystem services have been degraded, human well-being—paradoxically—has increased. In this article, we show that this debate is in fact rooted in a broader discussion on weak sustainability versus strong sustainability (the substitutability of human-made capital for natural capital). We warn against the reductive nature of focusing only on a stock—flow framework in which a natural-capital stock produces ecosystem services. Concretely, we recommend a holistic approach in which the complexity, irreversibility, uncertainty, and ethical predicaments intrinsic to the natural environment and its connections to humanity are also considered.

© 2012 by American Institute of Biological Sciences. All rights reserved. Request permission to photocopy or reproduce article content at the University of California Press's Rights and Permissions Web site at www.ucpressjournals.com/reprintinfo.asp.
Frederic Ang and Steven Van Passel "Beyond the Environmentalist's Paradox and the Debate on Weak versus Strong Sustainability," BioScience 62(3), (1 March 2012). https://doi.org/10.1525/bio.2012.62.3.6
Published: 1 March 2012
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