What does biodiversity loss cost us?

The idea of the value of nature traditionally involves intangibles and aesthetics: beauty, vitality, inspiration, etc. But, of course, natural systems provide more concrete value, too. We almost always think of that economic value in terms of what we can get out of these systems: lumber, minerals, food, etc…  but, when intact, they often provide even an even greater “bang for the buck.”

The most recent issue of Momentum magazine (a publication of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment) tackles these complex issues… and, in conjunction, released the video above to demonstrate some of the valuable services provided by ecosystems. Microbial consumption of natural pollutants (think of the BP oil spill), and protection from floods and erosion by standing forests are some of the more obvious economic benefits nature provides… read and watch for more examples.

The magazine’s biodiversity issue was inspired by The Natural Capitalism Institute, one of the original organizations to promote the concept of “environmental economics.” If you haven’t read the book that preceded the Institute, and have a hankering to learn more about the interconnections between economics and the environment, it’s definitely worth a read.

Nature is valuable… and not just for unspoiled vistas and cute, fuzzy creatures (though they’re valuable, too). Think this kind of argument can bring people around who might otherwise dismiss various forms of “treehugging?” Share your thoughts… and check out the other Big Questions video produced by the Institute at its YouTube channel.