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Natural Wealth

by Susan Clark & Edgar Vaid

Editor's and Reader's Highlights from May/June 2013 of Resurgence & Ecologist magazine

Economists behave as if our forests are worth more dead than alive

Editor's Highlights by Susan Clark

The May/June 2013 issue is all about wealth - but not the kind that disappears when the gold gets sold short. Rather, it's about the natural wealth so many take for granted that our account with the Earth's natural resources is now in danger of tipping over into the 'red.'

In The Money Revolution - this issue's Keynotes piece - Oliver Tickell, who is a founder member of the Green Economics Institute (, says poverty is no accident but instead, serves to boost the power, privilege and exclusivity of the super-rich.

He says: "Money is a product of the collective human imagination - and if it serves us badly, we can and should change the way it works."

And the economy, he argues, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the environment and not the other way round.

Other highlights in this issue include:


Environmental 'statesman' Jonathon Porritt explores how it is our cities - and not our governments - who are actually responding to their residents and leading the way in more sustainable living and innovation


Oxfam policy advisor, ErinchSahan, explains why we need to start holding the world's 10 biggest food companies - which, between them generate revenues of more than US$1.1 billion a day - to account


In the first of a thought-provoking three part series, Andrew W. Mitchell, executive director of the Global Canopy Programme ( says we need to recognise the true value of what our tropical rainforests provides - free of charge. "To economists, forests are worth more dead than alive," he warns.


Naturalist Mark Cocker reviews What Has Nature Ever Done for Us by Tony Juniper, a former director of Friends of the Earth, and agrees with the author that we must stop taking the Earth's universal services for granted and start to repay our debts

Reader's Highlights by Edgar Vaid


An assumed cultural hallmark of the United States is its citizens’ zeal for litigation.  Thus when an American farmer’s traditional crop variety suffers contamination from some genetically modified corn nearby, we might anticipate him suing the biotech seed corporation.  Wrong – the trend has actually been the reverse.  On the basis of ‘infringement of their patents’, companies such as Monsanto have sued farmers, i.e.  those whom natural justice and plain logic would consider the victims.  This is one of several shameful issues highlighted by Vandana Shiva in her powerful extract from “Seed Freedom: A Global Citizens’ Report”.


Here’s a lucid reminder of the sheer daftness of the World’s food supply system, quite apart from its familiar inequities.   It would surely be alarming if we heard that globally, 20% of food grown is wasted, either in the field or along the food chain. However, the most shocking claim in Vicki Hird’s article is that the true figure of that shameful wastage is nearer 50%.


Since the late 19th Century conventional science has taken for granted that the existence of living organisms can be explained in terms of physics and chemistry alone. However, the theory of Vitalism (that living organisms are truly alive) may now be re-asserting itself, one of several intriguing nuggets in Rupert Sheldrake’s stimulating cogitations. 


There may be something redolent in the name of Nietzshe which warns us to expect a Delphic and opaque quote from continental philosophy.  But his observation that “the essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude” makes perfect sense in the context of this exhibition.  As India Windsor-Clive observes, one interpretation of ice age peoples’ art is that they drew and carved representations of mammoths, reindeer, etc in gratitude for the food which such animals provided.


Apart from being rectangles, what do the following have in common – magazines on newsagents’ racks, estate agents’ signs in suburban streets, and customer loyalty cards presented at supermarket check-outs?  Their proportions all conform to the ‘golden ratio’ of 1:1.6 (or, for mathematical purists 1:1.618, apparently).  In part three of the Beauty Dialogues, an absorbing discussion between Shakti Maira and Pushpa Bhargava suggests that certain mathematical relationships, whether in designed products or living species, trigger aesthetic responses which are hard-wired in the human brain.

To read free articles online, buy the issue in full, or take out an annual membership to receive 6 issues of Resurgence & Ecologist a year, visit:




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