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I haven't plowed through the whole article, though it is waiting on my
desk for a few spare moments. It may be a frightening thesis, but not
too surprising. Nor is it surprising to see it in an economics journal; "you
don't know what you've got 'til its gone" is an economic statement.
Abundant, "free" things are always undervalued (eg, clean air and
water, productive soils, safe streets). It is only when these things
become scarce that, like diamonds, they become valuable.
Unfortunately, this shortsightedness might well mean catastrophic
species loss as well as essentially permanent degradation of soil
productivity, and, of course, all the associated consequences on health
and social cohesiveness and economic wellbeing. Eventually (as in
centuries and millenia), nature will repair a lot of this damage, but, as
Cochrane suggests, it isn't likely that the current, self-centered consumer
culture that is mucking things up now will survive -- the two phenomena
don't seem to coexist well.
In my opinion, the time is approaching when people who sustain the
productive capacity of their land will be outstandingly "wealthy" indeed!
Most on the list already know that; someday it will just be more obvious
to the rest.
We live in interesting times....