The introductory chapter describes the scopes of the sciences of ecology and economics pointing out how the former analyses the life process in biosphere abstracting from human society while the latter analyses the behaviour of human well being as driven by the processes of production and exchange of commodities abstracting from the nature. It shows the limitation of such segmentation of scopes and points to the necessity of a holistic approach for understanding the interactive relationship between the human economy and the natural environment. This relationship as determined by the laws of entropy and material balances sets ecological limits to the growth and development of an economy expressed in the forms of resource scarcity and environmental degradation. Finally, the chapter has also traced the roles of the natural resources or the bio-physical foundation of production in the evolution of economic thought from the physiocrats to the neoclassicals of modern times.
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