“Every man has his price,” declared one of Britain’s most cynical prime ministers, Robert Walpole, in the early 18th century. Three centuries on, we’re approaching the culmination of a 30-year struggle to decide whether every species, every ecosystem, every emission also has its price. And the outcome will have profound implications for our ability to honestly confront the reality of an impoverished natural world.

A harsh reality of the global economy is that Nature is largely invisible to the decisions taken by billions of producers, consumers and investors. In a world of exchange, too many ...


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