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The environmental economic response to mainstream neo-classical economics’ disconnect from the natural world was to value external environmental costs and include those into decisions about human welfare. The ecological economic response, heavily influenced by systems ecology, brought the concept of ecological scale or carrying capacity, as a limit to human choice. The divisions between these two theories are not merely cosmetic as illustrated by the high-stakes in the policy debates on the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change and following a publication by Rockström et al on planetary boundaries in the journal Ecology & Society as well as in Nature.
This paper concerns itself specifically with the question how Christian economists position themselves towards the unfolding ecological-economic crises. It is shown that the main positions taken in the policy debates on economy and ecology are closely mirrored in the broader Christian economic community, raising the question whether the Christian economic tradition does have anything particular to offer in response to the ecological-economic crises. We approach this question from two angles, first, reviewing the literature, and in particular an earlier debate by the Association of Christian Economists on what Christian economists should be doing and, second, reviewing the empirical literature on the relationships between Christianity and environmental beliefs and behaviour. A synthesized categorization of the wide range of Christian responses to economics and the environment is presented.
With reference to literature on the varying ontological views on the relationship between humanity and the rest of creation, and on different expectations of the eschaton, it is shown why such diverging positions are taken among Christian economists. Nevertheless, the reality of Jesus Christ demands a particular Christian ethics and –behaviour, which in turn, kindles fertile questions for Christian economists in their engagement with the economic and ecological sciences.