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The Value of Biodiversity
Transcript of The Value of Biodiversity
Value = basis for an estimation of worth
How are values formed?
1. GOODS - direct economic benefits derived from uses of individual species
2. SERVICES - indirect economic benefits derived "free" from functioning ecosystems
3. INFORMATION - content of the genetic code represents a resource of knowledge
4. PSYCOSPIRITUAL/ENJOYMENT - Muir’s "transcendental resource“, where nature provides necessary resources of human psychological well-being
Economic Valuation of Biodiversity
Taking a more long-term view in valuation
OPTION VALUES - value of resource’s expected future use
EXISTENCE VALUES - value of knowing something exists
Tools for Economic Valuation
1. Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) – assesses the benefits of a particular action and compare them to the environmental costs of that action
Attempt to translate values associated w/ a decision into a market value for direct comparison, do the benefits outweigh the cost?
Environmental Impact Assessments
Burden of proof lies with those who value preservation
Is Economic Valuation Enough?
Although more complete systems of accounting being developed by ecological economics, many question if this goes far enough.
Does this address the unethical situation of the massive overconsumption of resources and overproduction of greenhouse gas emissions by a minority of the world’s citizens at the expense of the majority of the worlds population?
E.g. Antimicrobial peptides secreted by a variety of frogs prevent HIV infection.
VanCompernolle et al. (2005) "tested 14 peptides derived from diverse amphibian species for the capacity to inhibit HIV infection. Three peptides (caerin 1.1, caerin 1.9, and maculatin 1.1) completely inhibited HIV infection of T cells within minutes of exposure to virus at concentrations that were not toxic to target cells"
Plants and animals derived directly from biodiversity provide a significant part of the human diet. "Fisheries in particular, and the accompanying employment, provide a significant example of the importance of this function." (Beaumont et al., 2007)
GAS AND CLIMATE REGULATION
The balance and maintenance of the chemical composition of the atmosphere
The dampening of environmental disturbances by biogenic structures
BIOREMEDIATION OF WASTE
Removal of pollutants through storage, burial and recycling
Market failure: Externalities, & lack of property rights for services
Hidden costs not factored into the market - huge problem!
USE VALUES - Derived from the actual use of the product
Direct Use - Commodity Values (can be readily calculated)
Consumptive Use Value & Productive Use Value
Indirect Use - public goods that provide services without being harvested (can't be readily calculated)
Human societies totally dependent upon natural ecosystems.
Calculate the cost of replacing natural services with artificial ones
Conservation biology is VALUE-LADEN
"A scientific understanding of life’s variety increases the ethical significance of protecting it. The one more knows, the more just a decision one may make." - E.O. Wilson
Truth informs decisions of value, and leads to specific commitments of value in the application of science to conservation; therefore Conservation Biologists must posses a coherent system of values that they can articulate universally and persuasively!
Pacific Yew Tree
2. Safe minimum standard (SMS) – attempts to determine, and maintain some minimum level of renewable resource to regulate activities
Management based on an existence value (e.g. minimum pop. size of a species) rather than an economic value
Burden of proof lies with proposed develop
PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE - when there is uncertainty about the risks associated with the project, it is better to err on the side of doing no harm to the environment
Contingent Valuation (WTP & WTA)
3. Stated Preference Techniques (aka Contingent valuation) involves directly asking people, in a survey, how much they would be willing to pay (WTP) for specific environmental services; or you can ask questions to determine the average payment affected individuals would accept for losses incurred due to conservation practices (WTA).
"The fact that CV is based on what people say they would do, as opposed to what people are observed to do, is the source of its greatest strengths and its greatest weaknesses" http://www.ecosystemvaluation.org/contingent_valuation.htm
1. Market Based Techniques: The value of goods can be measured using market prices.
2. Revealed Preference Techniques:
A. [preventative or mitigatory expenditure and averting behavior approaches] data can be used to infer value of ecosystem goods/services by observing consumer behavior, or the cost of actions consumers are willing to take, to mitigate the loss of biodiversity.
B. [replacement cost approach] estimation of how much it would cost to replace the lost biodiversity benefit with a substitute.
Commodity value and other direct use values have intuitive appeal
because they reflect known values.
BUT - Ethics implies intrinsic valuation, not merely the instrumental view, should be considered.
What about intrinsic value?
“A conservation system cannot be based wholly on economic motives, because most members of the community have no economic value”
e.g. Reservoirs of genetic diversity increase the opportunities for enhancing agricultural productivity
Measures the usefulness of a creature/object in meeting a need or providing a service to another
Intrinsic values reside within an object itself, the value is independent of any use or function it may have in relation to something else
"biodiversity prospecting" the search for wild species whose genes can yield new medicines and better crops