Its primary argument is that economics is itself a strict subfield of ecology, in that ecology deals with the energy and matter transactions of life and the earth, and the human economy is by definition contained within this system. Chief among the critiques of current normative economics by ecological economists is its approach to natural resources and capital. Analyses from the standpoint of conventional and environmental economics undervalue natural capital in that it is treated as a factor of production interchangable with labor and technology (human capital). It is claimed that human capital is complementary to natural capital rather than interchangable, as human capital inevitably derives from natural capital in one form or another. It rejects the view of energy economics that growth in the energy supply is related directly to well being, focusing instead on biodiversity and creativity - or natural capital and individual capital, in the terminology sometimes adopted to describe these economically. In practice, ecological economics focuses primarily on the key issues of uneconomic growth and measuring well-being. Ecological economists are inclined to acknowledge that much of what is important in human well-being is not analyzable from a strictly economic standpoint and suggests interdisciplinarity with social and natural sciences as a means to address this.
Ecological economics is conceptually related to the theories of Marx and the more updated theories of analysts such as sociologist John Bellamy Foster. This is a more radical restatement of the views of green economists or the more conventional environmental economics which do not so directly challenge the classical ideas of growth or optimality.
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