Ecological Economics and Sustainability
Perhaps the most salient（突出的，显著的） contribution of ecological economics is its challenge to many of the fundamental precepts（戒律，格言） of neoclassical（新古典主义的） economic theory. In the view advocated by ecological economists， an economy is a ‘one-way entropic throughput of energy and materials（耗散过程）’ as opposed to the neoclassical view of a circular flow of exchange value without any explicit links to the biophysical world. The central aim of ecological economics involves describing the relationship between ‘dynamic human economic systems and larger dynamic， but normally slower-changing ecological systems’。 In its normative（标准的，规范的） sense， this relationship envisions a socio-ecological context wherein ‘（1） human life can continue indefinitely， （2） human individuals can flourish（充分发展）， and （3） human cultures can develop； but in which effects of human activities remain within bounds， so as not to destroy the diversity， complexity， and function of the ecological life support system’。 With few variants（变体，变种）， the themes implicit in this definition – intergenerational equity， meeting basic human needs and integrating concern for ecological processes into economic calculations – have remained the fundamental building blocks of ecological economics.
The notion of intergenerational equity challenges some of the central assumptions of conventional economic thinking. As a result of ecological economists‘ efforts ’to understand how to approach growth policy in a way that would not impoverish the future‘， some time-tested tools of economics have come under fire. For example， the idea of intergenerational equity confronts the use of discount rates in economic analyses. Making intergenerational equity a primary goal also carries salient normative implications. One path towards operationalizing sustainability is a constructed social order consisting of an ’intertemporal contract‘ based on the precepts of regency（摄政） and social bequests（遗产）。
Ecological economists‘ dialog on intergenerational equity is abetted（煽动，支持） by arguments for intra-generational equity and meeting the basic needs of current human societies. One manifestation of this concern is Goodland and Daly’s call for a clear distinction between economic growth and economic development. Along these lines， reforming economic processes and reducing the socioeconomic ills associated with uneven development would entail（vt. 必需） a shift away from neoliberal visions of global economic integration to a focus on domestic production to develop internal markets. There is also an emerging challenge to how mainstream environmental and resource economics treat the environment-poverty nexus（关系）。 The assumption that only rich countries exhibit environmental awareness ignores an ‘environmentalism of the poor’ which seeks to maintain access to communal（公共的） resources under threat from state development programs and market processes.
Another broad thrust in ecological economics is the argument that operationalizing sustainability demands redirecting economic and environmental policies to ensure a nondepleting stock of natural capital. Environmental valuation has emerged as the primary method of accomplishing such a transition by inserting awareness over ecological entities and services into the calculus（计算） of economic well-being（福利）。 Costanza advocates a ‘biophysical basis for value’ that argues societal values should be based on the degree to which a particular evolutionary product is organized in terms of availability for human use. Carrying this argument to its logical conclusion， one interdisciplinary team of researchers uses valuation techniques to place the total value of the planet‘s ecosystem goods in the neighborhood of US$33 trillion（兆万亿） per year. A similar logic could be applied to the value of ’sustaining services‘ within the overall production process. In addition to environmental valuation， ecological economists offer several related policy recommendations aimed primarily at governmental and multilateral（多边的） development institutions. These include reform of national accounting systems to include natural capital in economic calculations； green taxes on ecologically harmful economic activities linked to lower taxes on labor and income； investment strategies to maintain natural capital at current levels； and endorsement of the ’precautionary principle‘ as central tenet（宗旨）of environmental policy.