This review paper presents a modeling framework for macroeco- nomic growth dynamics that is motivated by recent attempts to formulate and study “integrated models” of the coupling between natural and socio-economic phenomena. The challenge is to describe the interfaces between human acti- vities and the functioning of the earth system. We examine the way that this interface works in the presence of endogenous business cycle dynamics, based on a non-equilibrium dynamic model, and review the macroeconomic response to natural disasters. Our model exhibits a larger response to natural disasters during expansions than during recessions, and we raise questions about the as- sessment of climate change damages or natural disaster losses that are based purely on long-term growth models. In order to compare the theoretical fin- dings with observational data, we present a new method for extracting cyclic behavior from the latter, based on multivariate singular spectral analysis.