Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Value of Doing Nothing

Putting a price, an economic value, on the flora and fauna in the wild is a relatively new concept but it can be a powerful tool that is missing in many environmental conversations.

Granted, there are many people who think that many of the services we get from ecosystems are priceless, such as clean air and clean water not to mention the spiritual value, say, of a walk on the beach.

Still, when the discussion with the opposition gets down to the nitty gritty, it is important to be able to talk on economic terms. It is the language of the businesses and governments that have a direct hand in the saving or the destroying of nature.

Gretchen Daily, a Stanford biologist and co-founder of the Natural Capital Project, said it beautifully in the New York Times:

“The loss of earth’s biodiversity is permanent,” Dr. Daily said. “And it is happening on our watch. We need to convey with compelling evidence the value of nature and the cost of losing it. I find it stunning that until the next asteroid hits the planet, it is humanity that is collectively deciding the future course of all known life.”

“Right now, the way a forest is worth money is by cutting it down,” Adam Davis said. Davis is a partner in Ecosystem Investment Partners. “We measure that value in board-feet of lumber or tons of pulp sold to a paper mill.” What has been missing, he says, is a countervailing economic force that measures the value of leaving a forest or other ecosystem intact, also in the Times piece.

 Let's see this same thinking applied more often to big blue. 

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