Navigation Links
What's nature worth? New computer models tell all

Breath in. The air is free. But we'd all agree it's not worthless. So, what's the price tag on benefits provided by nature?

In 1997, the University of Vermont's Robert Costanza and his co-authors put the answer at $33 trillion per year in a now-famous paper in the journal Nature. In the decade following, the science of "ecosystem services" has bloomed. This young discipline studies how nature--through climate regulation, soil formation, crop pollination, flood protection, and so on--supports human welfare, and estimates its value in economic terms.

Now, Costanza and his colleagues at UVM's Gund Institute for Ecological Economics have launched a project to solve a central problem that this young science faces: creating a fast way for policy-makers to understand the specific ecosystem services in their area--and the impacts of different land use decisions--whether looking at a local watershed or whole continent.

Over the next year, with an $813,000 grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Costanza and his team will create a set of computer models and tools that will give a sophisticated portrait of the ecosystem dynamics and value for any spot on earth.

"Land use planners, county commissioners, investment bankers, anyone who is interested," Cosntanza said, "will be able to go on the Web, use our new models, and be able to identify a territory and start getting answers."

For example, if a town council is trying decide the value of a wetland--compared to, say, building a shopping mall there--these models will help them put a dollar value on it. If a country wants to emulate Costa Rica's program of payments to landowners to maintain their land as a forest, they'll better be able to figure the ecosystem value of various land parcels to establish fair payments.

To build the new models, Costanza's team will gather experts on a range of ecosystems to two extended meetings in Burlington, one this fall and another next spring. In small teams, they'll link together the latest understandings of how forests, grasslands, wetlands, open ocean, and other ecosystem types function with detailed maps of where these natural communities occur and other geographic information.

Next, these models will be informed by new methods of estimating the value of ecosystems. Conventional economics has relied on the rather clunky notion of "willingness to pay" to determine how much a product is worth. This approach doesn't apply well to many ecosystem services that are either indispensable--like air to breath--or exceedingly subtle--like global climate regulation.

"Instead, we're looking for effects of ecosystems on human welfare, whether people perceive them or not--rather than just asking them how much they'd pay for this service," Costanza said.

And finally, next year, the project will put out its results through an interactive website--perhaps a bit like Google Earth for ecosystems services--journal articles, and other reports.

Recent studies have made it clear that not only do ecosystem services provide a majority of income for poor people in developing countries, but, more startling, that the economic value of the world's ecosystems is much larger than the value of all the products and services usually put under the umbrella of "the global economy."

Ultimately, Costanza hopes the project will help policymakers realize that conservation is not a luxury; it must be a key economic goal. If his project succeeds, "it will allow us to move beyond the counterproductive conservation vs. development debate to thinking about conservation as a form of development," he writes.


'"/>

Source:University of Vermont


Related biology news :

1. Whats really making you sick? Plant pathologists offer the science behind Sick Building Syndrome
2. Whats shaped like a pear and has 2 genomes? Check the pond
3. Whats next for gene therapy? Plastic
4. Whats in the water? Estrogenic activity documented in fish caught in Pittsburghs rivers
5. Gene Signatures Predict Interferon Response For Multiple Sclerosis Patients
6. Bioelectronic ‘signatures?hold key to DNA mutations
7. The circadian clock: Understanding natures timepiece
8. Scientists map the world for nature conservation
9. Brain Scan Study of Smokers Reveals Signature of Craving
10. Scientists to mimic nature for newest cancer drugs
11. Researchers create functioning artificial proteins using natures rules
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:1/27/2016)... WEST CHESTER, Ohio , Jan. 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... services supplier based in West Chester, Ohio ... and their award winning service staff, based in ... Track,s technical capacity and ability to provide modifications, installations ... John Dovalina , CEO of PLUS, commented, "PLUS ...
(Date:1/21/2016)... --> ... report "Emotion Detection and Recognition Market by Technology (Bio-Sensors, NLP, ... Voice Recognition and Others), Services, Application Areas, End ... published by MarketsandMarkets, the global Emotion Detection and ... Billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 31.9%, ...
(Date:1/15/2016)... Jan. 15, 2016 Recent publicized breaches in ... find new ways to ensure data security and user ... and Android that ties a user,s ... it into a hardware authorization token. Customer service agents ... fingerprint on their KodeKey enabled device to verify their ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/4/2016)... 2016 - New FDA action date of ... FDA action date of July 22, 2016   ... 22, 2016   - Lifitegrast has ... indicated for the treatment of signs and symptoms of dry eye ... potential to be the only product approved in the U.S. in the past decade indicated ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... 4, 2016  CytoSorbents Corporation (NASDAQ: CTSO ... flagship CytoSorb® blood filter to treat deadly inflammation ... world, announced that CEO Dr. Phillip Chan ... Capital Group,s 2016 Disruptive Growth & Healthcare Conference, ... Conference Presentation Details: Where: Convene ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... BEIJING , Feb. 4, 2016 Sinovac ... ), a leading provider of biopharmaceutical products in ... committee of its board of directors received on February ... 3, 2016, from a consortium comprised of PKU V-Ming ... Sinobioway Biomedicine Co., Ltd., CICC Qianhai Development ( ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... 2016  Discovery Laboratories, Inc. (NASDAQ: DSCO ... KL4 surfactant therapies for respiratory diseases, today announced ... inducement award as a component of employment compensation ... President and Chief Executive Officer.  The award was ... 1, 2016 and granted as an inducement material ...
Breaking Biology Technology: