Words

This page hosts longer versions of published stories, or stories that did not make it to the presses, but were pondered over, researched and written with just as much care and attention as any written on the job.

steppingstones

At What Cost to Nature?
Is there a case for putting an economic value on nature? … read more…

This Viewpoint in the local Powell River Peak newspaper was published at the beginning of January 2017. It has stirred up an interest in the natural economy, natural capital, natural assets (the subject goes by various names) world.
Far be it for any one of us to put a price on birds, animals, plants, water bodies, mountains, shorelines; it seems, a monetary value provides defence for nature against economic development. Essentially, this is what it is about:

Picture the quintessential corporate boardroom. XX company has decided on the location of its new hydro power plant. The artistic renditions, the number of local jobs, the beauty of architectural definition…it all looks and sounds so very wonderful. But at what cost? The only money mentioned is that which XX company believes it can make from the project. And, there might be a little $$ trickling down into the local economy of the neighbouring or hosting community.
After listening to a lengthy presentation, Nature stands up. It too has a presentation. Nature gestures to the closest window and asks that it be opened. “I bring before you Fresh Air, I bring before you Birds, I bring before you Trees, I bring before you Streams and Wetlands, I bring before you Soil, I bring before you every single Creature (including Humans) that uses the Land for Life…” and so Nature continues until Nature has exhausted the names of every living thing, every geological occurrence, every connection that holds Nature together.
Before Nature sits down, it shows one slide. It shows a Dollar figure $$$$. This is the cost of doing business. This is what will be lost. This figure accounts for all the ways Nature assists Humans, removes the need for expensive human-made infrastructure, keeps the air clean and the water pure and the land stable.
XX company predicts $$$ flowing into the local community. Nature predicts $$$$ flowing out of the local community. Nature has found its voice.

In essence, putting a value on nature provides nature with a seat at the boardroom table. It allows figures to be compared with figures, equally, by levelling the playing field. For too long, Nature has been silent.

Here are a few Internet resources for more information: