Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Economic Value of Nature

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Insect pollination is reportedly valued at £136 billion a year. Michael McCarthy, in a recent article on The Independent, writes “Many aspects of the natural world are now being given real financial value, to represent the services they perform for us, the most obvious being the pollination of crops by insects.”

McCarthy notes that these valuations are widely considered to be our new hope for saving the planet, based on the theory that if we know the true worth of nature, we’ll look after it. Or will we? If you live in California and eat hamburgers, you might want to stop if you knew how much water it took to produce it. Or every time you crunch a walnut: five gallons of water concentrated on that single nut. The water crisis in California – where 25% of America’s good is grown – means we will need to make decisions about what to do without. Walnuts – gone. Strawberries – we don’t need them 12 months of the year. I predict that water consumption will become a feature of packaging at a certain level or geography.

While doing hard sums, it’s important to remain meditative about the emotional response nature evokes. Being in the desert, watching a sunset or sunrise, squelching into mud, the sound of the waves crashing at night, the wind blowing on your skin. These moments connect us with nature, often in quite profound and personal ways. “Keeping Calm and Carrying On” is an outcome from being close to nature and the embrace of its elements.

The EVA of nature will come into sharp relief over the next decade as we pound its limits. Making the effort to get close to nature is a requisite for happiness and survival. Is this why Alaskan Bush People was the second-highest rated show on cable last week? And why The Walking Dead series 5 finale drew over 17 million viewers, a record?

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