The passage below is a red-herring, a straw man.
My sense is most or nearly all economists, including conservative encomists, would object to the notion that they hold the "notion that natures ... value consists of the instrumental benefits we can extract; that this value can be measured in cash terms and that what can’t be measured does not matter".
Economist and thinking people are mindful that the cash value can be imputed as proxy for a hypothetically more holistic measure.
Or that the cash value is not fixed or sacred but done for the sake of a practical purpose. That is all. A recognized imperfect measure. Economists do this work with their eyes open. And they just as " motivated by love for the living planet" as the next sentient being. This practice does not turn one into a mindless robot. Sometimes quite the opposite in my experience.
To use a dharma simile, Monbiot's argument seems to stand in denial of the possibility that other people are at least as capable as he of leaving the raft behind on the beach once we have reached the far shore. Or that (gag) economists might actually love and cherish nature as much as you George.
Underlying Monbiot's claim I suspect is the belief that "if you believe that you can put a number value on something then you will next do something horrible" as if there was some necessary and inevitable law of karma driving it. And that is an act of reification just as much as the thing Monbiot criticizes.
Plus it seems to say to economists and many educated, thoughtful and honest people "your thoughts have no value
here, shut up, go home".
So Monbiot losses me here. Is he tilting at windmill's with a "intellectually vacuous, emotionally alienating and self-defeating" argument?
Of course "The way we name things and think about them – in other words the mental frames we use – helps determine the way we treat them". Monbiot it seems is advocating a mental frame that allows him to demonize "the other" and prevents a honest recognition of the mental frames of much of the rest of the world.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... al-capital
The UK government wants to put a price on nature – but that will destroy it
... Still more deluded is the expectation that we can defend the living world through the mindset that’s destroying it. The notions that nature exists to serve us; that its value consists of the instrumental benefits we can extract; that this value can be measured in cash terms; and that what can’t be measured does not matter, have proved lethal to the rest of life on Earth. The way we name things and think about them – in other words the mental frames we use – helps determine the way we treat them. ...
The natural capital agenda is the definitive expression of our disengagement from the living world. First we lose our wildlife and natural wonders. Then we lose our connections with what remains of life on Earth. Then we lose the words that described what we once knew. Then we call it capital and give it a price. This approach is morally wrong, intellectually vacuous, emotionally alienating and self-defeating.
Those of us who are motivated by love for the living planet should not hesitate to say so. Never underestimate the power of intrinsic values. They inspire every struggle for a better world.
A couple of commenters recognize the, um "value" of value. These comments IMO are a long way from being vacuous.
It makes no difference if you attach a price tag or not. The price is an implicit fact, reflecting what we actually do.
People can then decide whether they want to up the price or not - no more hiding behind preaching ecology but not doing anything in nature's cause.
You are saying that because you can't calculate the price with any precision, you shouldn't do it at all. I wouldn't give up that easily.
"The government argues that without a price, the living world is accorded no value, so irrational decisions are made. "
Here's where you go wrong. It's not that it has no value, it's that you cannot easily quantify the value. That's pretty standard economic thought. The reason natural habitats are often damaged, after all, is that there is little apparent cost (but plenty of actual cost) to doing so. What the government (among others) is trying to do is stop that gap by quantifying the value of these habitats so those costs can be imposed.
... I'm a big fan of George's articles, but he seems a bit out of his depth on this one. Particularly in terms of understanding the economic theory behind it.
I have a feeling he explains his thoughts better in an earlier article but in this one he doesn't really begin to explain why this makes things worse.
Nature in general is going to get trashed regardless so what is it about putting a value on it that makes it more likely rather than less that an area of particular value will be sold off?
Nonetheless the natural and human worlds have to rub along together, and if natural capital is a way of ensuring some heed is taken it's a useful tool.