Securing food, shelter, energy and income for the ever swelling human population is being achieved at a huge cost to biodiversity and natural ecosystems.
Economists and environmentalists are arguing the only way to save our planet is to put a dollar value on the"services" it provides. Natural ecosystems like wetlands control floods. Trees store carbon. Surfers enjoy riding waves. The planet’s ‘natural capital’ is estimated to be around $125 trillion a year.
But for many, nature is priceless. And subjecting it to market forces is too risky. If valued only in economic terms, ecosystems that home natural phenomena which are good for the environment but bad for built human life – like bushfires and floods – could be deemed worthless. After all, there are many successful examples of traditional conservation methods. Massive land areas have been protected in countries as large as Australia, the United States and Germany.
Can capitalism deliver conservation? Or should the environment be measured by its intrinsic value only? Is it wrong to put a price on nature?