What is Natural about natural capital during the Anthropocene?

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7 Scopus citations


The concept of natural capital denotes a rich variety of natural processes, such as ecosystems, that produce economically valuable goods and services. The Anthropocene signals a diminished state of nature, however, with some scholars claiming that no part of the Earth's surface remains untouched. What are ecological economists to make of natural capital during the Anthropocene? Is natural capital still a coherent concept? What is the conceptual relationship between nature and natural capital? This article wrestles with John Stuart Mill's two concepts of nature and argues that during the Anthropocene, natural capital should be understood as denoting economically valuable processes that are not absolutely-but relatively-detached from intentional human agency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number806
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 14 2018


  • Ecological economics
  • Natural capital
  • The anthropocene
  • The concept of nature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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