"The day that a tree standing is worth more than a tree cut down" is the day economics align with sustainability, Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environmental Programme, said via teleconference from Nairobi, Kenya. "The myth of the 20th century made the services the environment provides invisible."
In fact, countries ranging from the U.S. to China treat the continent of Africa as "a large mine. You extract what you need for the world economy," Steiner charged. Some environmental economists have estimated that the entire continent has lost as much as 50 percent of its profusion of flora and fauna in just the last decade as a result of such exploitation. "We have to become more efficient in the way we use resources. The only other option is to run out of them," he added.