The Value of a World

The world’s ecological and atmospheric infrastructure — from ocean currents to mango forests, the jetstream to wetlands — contributes at least $1.50 to human economic wellbeing for every dollar that we mark in the official economy of goods and services, new research has found. What does this matter? A lot, it turns out, as Chris Wood writes in his new Natural Security column. An excerpt: 

robert_costanza

Robert Costanza

If you have ever spent a night under the canopy of stars undimmed by city lights, in a place where the only sounds are those unmade by man that have whispered and lapped and knocked and called out through the dark hours in that place since the last big ice released its grip on the Earth, you may share the view of many who have been so blessed that the essence of our planet’s nature and worth cannot possibly be reduced to the grasping calculi of dollars or pounds or Euros.

You would be only partly right.

An American economist has done just that, sort of, for a second time. And while Robert Costanza doesn’t for a moment suggest that the planet’s service value to the human economy exhausts its rainbow of other values, he does say that we need to know that hard economic dollar value if we are to make wiser decisions about how we use the planet … read more (paywall).* 

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What’s a World Worth? We now have a very precise idea

Click here for Chris Wood’s’s page, with all of his columns for F&O.

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