Can We Love Nature and Let It Go?

The Case for Interwoven Decoupling

1. UNEP. 2011. Decoupling Natural Resource Use and Environmental Impacts from Economic Growth. A Report of the Working Group on Decoupling to the International Resource Panel. Fischer-Kowalski, M., Swilling, M., von Weizsäcker, E. U., Ren, Y., Moriguchi, Y., Crane, W., Krausmann, F., Eisenmenger, N., Giljum, S., Hennicke, P., Romero Lankao, P., Siriban Manalang, A., and Sewerin, S. United Nations Environment Programme.

2. Blomqvist, L., T. Nordhaus, and M. Shellenberger. 2015. Nature Unbound: Decoupling for Conservation. Oakland, CA: Breakthrough Institute.

3. UNEP, Environmental Impacts from Economic Growth.

4. Asafu-Adjaye, J., et al. 2015. An Ecomodernist Manifesto

5. United Nations. 2015. World Population Projected to Reach 9.7 Billion by 20150 with Most Growth in Developing Regions, Especially Africa — says UN.

6. Capper, J. L. 2012. “Is the grass always greener? Comparing the environmental impact of conventional, natural and grass-fed beef production systems.” Animals 2: 127–143.

7. Badgley, C., et al. 2007. “Organic agriculture and the global food supply.” Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 22.2: 86–108.

8. Erb, K. H., et al. 2016. “Exploring the biophysical option space for feeding the world without deforestation.” Nature Communications 7.

9. Eshel, G., et al. 2014. “Land, irrigation water, greenhouse gas, and reactive nitrogen burdens of meat, eggs, and dairy production in the United States.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111.33: 11996–12001.

10. Cassidy, E. S., et al. 2013. “Redefining agricultural yields: from tonnes to people nourished per hectare.” Environmental Research Letters 8.3: 034015; FAO. 2015. Inputs — Land. FAOSTAT. Available at

11. Cited in Blomqvist et al. Nature Unbound.

12. Foley, J. A., et al. 2011. “Solutions for a cultivated planet.” Nature 478.7369: 337–342.

13. Kateman, B. 2017. “The Reducetarian Solution: How the Surprisingly Simple Act of Reducing the Amount of Meat in Your Diet Can Transform Your Health and the Planet.” TarcherPerigee.

14. Johnson, N. 2015. “Do industrial agricultural methods actually yield more food per acre than organic ones?” Grist.

15. Asafu-Adjaye et al. An Ecomodernist Manifesto.

16. Nash, R. F. 2010. “Island Civilization: A Vision for Human Occupancy of Earth in the Fourth Millennium.” Environmental History 15.3: 377.

17. Ibid.

18. Ibid., 379.

19. Wilson, E. O. 2016. Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life. W. W. Norton & Company.

20. The Wilderness Society. “Wilderness Designation FAQs.”

21. Wilson, Half-Earth, 192.

22. Gartner, T., et al. 2013. Natural Infrasturcture: Investing in Forested Landscapes for Source Water Protection in the United States.

23. Hargrove, E. C. 1992. “Weak anthropocentric intrinsic value.” The Monist 75.2: 183–207.

24. For the purposes of this paper, I focus on weak anthropocentric value, but it is possible and, I believe, plausible, that nature could be valuable completely independent of our valuation of it.

25. Rohwer, Y., and E. Marris. 2016. “Renaming restoration: Conceptualizing and justifying the activity as a restoration of lost moral value rather than a return to a previous state.” Restoration Ecology 24.5: 674–679. 

26. The Nature Conservancy. 2011. “Connecting America’s Yourth to Nature.”

27. Mock, B. 2015. “Can we green the hood without gentrifying it?” Grist.

28. Vincent, C. H., L. A. Hanson, and C. N. Argueta. 2017. “Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data.” Congressional Research Service.

29. The Trust for Public Land. 2015. “2015 City Park Facts.”