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Examination of the Treatment Valuation of the Ecosystem

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Ecosystem Valuation Summary

The article by Costana discusses an important debate on how society should value the ecosystem around them. Since ecosystem services do not provide immediate value in commercial markets, they do not get thought of to have a concrete monetary value. The article estimates its values for ecosystem services per unit area by biome and then multiplied by total area of each biome and summed over all services and biomes. Ecosystem functions are just habitat, biological, and system processes by an ecosystem. Capital stock is considered to be something identifiable and can take physical form such as trees, minerals, and water. Capital stock and ecosystem services are related because ecosystem services can provide capital stocks which can eventually produce human welfare. This would help give valuation on ecosystem services.

Some people have said valuation of these ecosystem services are too hard to quantify or unwise to place value on something intangible. This idea has been proven false since we put high value on services such as a bridge which is made because of the value of human life. Morals and conflict of interest come in to play when deciding valuation on an ecosystem service and the article gives a good example of this with how we do this. The idea that we should not put a valuation and instead preserve ecosystem services because of their aesthetic value is compared with the moral argument that no one should go hungry. This shows how it is easy to value something morally but still does not solve the problem itself.

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The article uses estimates from 1994 US$ in ha-1 yr-1 with the USA consumer price index and other conversion factors as needed to put a valuation on ecosystem services. They also used a typical supply and demand curve to model the valuation when in reality a lot of supply curves will be inelastic. The study concludes that the estimate annual value is $16-54 trillion dollars with an average of $33 trillion dollars. This would mean that to replace one of these services that the global GDP would increase by $33 trillion dollars, this concept in itself would lead to no increase in welfare because it would only replace existing services.

While it’s a good idea to put a valuation on these services it is also impractical to convince people that these numbers actually mean something. For someone who wants to get rid of ecosystem services the price of $2 trillion dollars vs. $20 trillion dollars will not change their stance on getting rid of the service. These people are more concerned with the space that an ecosystem service holds and how that space can be turned into something that can churn out immediate value. A way to explain the importance of these ecosystem services would be to value the damage that would result in getting rid of an ecosystem service. For example, right now the importance of bees pollinating flowers is a very important relationship in our ecosystem. Most people who are uninformed about this relationship would see no value in saving the bees. If the consequences of the bees going extinct had value it would be more eye opening, then just saying the bees are worth a certain amount of trillion dollars. If it is explained how mass corporations could end up suffering due to an ecosystem service being erased it could provide more awareness than just saying a certain service has an astronomically high value.


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