|Earth from Apollo 17.|
Let me amplify here, as a way of making amends. What we really need to do is get the economy to talk to nature. We imagine our economy as if it was entirely a human creation, but as Adam Smith and economists long since have discussed, the social transactions of the economy - buying and selling, printing money, producing goods and services - are embraced by nature. Smith said the economy is based on the interactions of land, labor and capital. The latter two are human creations, but the first is not. Land includes natural resources and the services supplied by nature, including recycling of our waste products and provision of energy from the sun. Without natural resources, there is no economy, just as without human labor and ingenuity, there would be no economy.
Regulations are one way to force the economy to respond to nature, but I think a more effective and flexible way is to use taxation. Tax what we don't want, and relieve taxes from what we do, which means taxation should fall heaviest on inefficient, wasteful uses of natural resources, and be lifted from applications of human effort and creativity. In Terra Nova, I call for shifting taxes off of sales, property values (as measured economically), and even the corporate income tax, and rather raise these funds from natural resource use and production of wastes in the form of gate duties.
Gate duties are taxes collected at the "edge" of the economy - at the point of natural resource extraction (for example, oil drilling) and at the point of waste production (e.g. combustion of oil.) This is an appropriate role for government because government is charged with establishing justice, insuring the domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. For as long as we over-use what nature provides, at rates faster than nature can provide it, we put all of these aims of popular and democratic government at risk. (Read the first part of Terra Nova to learn just how, based on a detailed case study of oil and land.)
So what is the "Apollo Program" for Terra Nova? Well, obviously it's the Gaea Program, paying respect to the great mother of us all, through a system of gate duties.