Since humanity is just another animal species exchanging materials with the world around us, you might say our economy is a subset of the larger ecosystem. Per good old Merriam-Webster, “economic” means “of, relating to, or based on the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.” Production, distribution, consumption—these terms might sound too dry to relate to damp soil, but essentially they’re synonyms for what moss and mice and all the world’s other wild species are doing outdoors.
On the other hand, as a city-dweller in a “developed nation,” I can easily come to see the economy not as a part of the ecosystem but as a replacement for it. Unlike my ancestors, who hunted, gathered, herded, and farmed for their food, I no longer need to engage directly with “nature” to stay alive; it seems almost irrelevant to my survival.
Clean air blows into buildings continuously on ventilation systems.
Pure water flows freely from pipes and bottles.
Safe food is perpetually stocked in grocery stores and restaurants.
And frankly, it’s been great for me. I’m utterly dependent on the economy’s systems delivering these vital services, and can only hope they forever remain as reliable as they’ve been thus far in my life.