The role and meaning of environmental valuation has become increasingly messy and confused. Choice of value constructs is not merely some pragmatic decision, and yet that is a position now being commonly expressed not just by economists but also ecologists, conservation biologists and environmental campaigners. Recent examples of this new environmental pragmatism include approaches to climate change, biodiversity and more generally sustainability. The language of the new environmental pragmatists is one of the market place, accountants, financiers and bankers. The discourse recommends institutions for trading, profits and individual gain. Recent experience should offer a cautionary tale as to where that road leads.