Oikos Commerce – the Integration of Ecology and Economy

“Oikos”, a Greek root word meaning “houses” brings the ecological system and the economy under one roof.  Integrating these systems is accomplished by melding the following ideologies:

EcoCommerce 101 grasps the corporate responsibility and their dependency on natural capital as described in Paul Hawken's Ecology of Commerce.  It merges the ecological concepts described by Eugene Odum in Fundamentals of Ecology with the economic basics described by James Gwarty in Common Sense Economics.  It shores up the market processes and procedures using the legal insights of J.B. Ruhl in The Law and Policy of Ecosystem Services.  It creates an ecosystem language platform based upon the findings in Wayne Ott’s Environmental Indices: Theory and Practice. The book completes this circle of thought by applying the economic principles as described in Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Cause of the Wealth of Nations. 

Applying this amalgam of concepts integrates the economy and the expanding bio-economy.  Our man-made economic system has basically neglected the value of natural capital.  Natural capital provides us with the ability to efficiently produce food, fiber and biofuel stocks.  It also has the capacity to provide us with clean water, fertile soils, and it has the function of regulating water, air and weather systems of our planet.  But natural capital, like the other major economic capitals (financial, physical, human, and social) is finite in supply.  In a functioning economic system, a finite supply along with a demand should create a market that determines the right price so that we don’t run out.  But there is one major problem – as our economic participants consume and degrade the natural capacity, a corresponding market signal is not created; its dead air.  The invisible hand, the concept described in Adam Smith’s 18th century The Wealth of Nations that provides economic guidance fails when an adequate market signal is not generated.  The Invisible Hand becomes the Fallible Hand. 

This Fallible Hand, left unchecked, becomes an economic liability as it incentivizes activities that degrade the natural capital of our economy.  Oikos Commerce integrates the ecological and economical systems and begins to complete our House.