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Ecology and economics copy


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Intro to Natural Capital

Published in: Environment
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Ecology and economics copy

  1. 1. What’s the Bottom Line? J. Voytilla
  2. 2.  Dynamic Nature of a Resource - The importance and/or value changes over time - The availability changes over time  Resources can be valued in different ways 1. Economic – having marketable goods 2. Ecological – providing life support systems 3. Scientific – useful for research and applications 4. Intrinsic – having cultural, esthetic, spiritual or philosophical values
  3. 3.  Natural Capital: natural resources, services and processes that have value to us. - Are not manufactured but some could be processed later - E.g. trees, soil, water, living organisms, minerals, flood and erosion protection provided by forests, water cycle, photosynthesis  Natural Income: yield or harvest or services obtained from natural capital. - Factories produce objects, cherry trees produce cherries, water cycle provides fresh water
  4. 4.  The measure of true wealth of a country includes its natural capital.  In other words, how many resources, forests, rivers etc it has.  In general, MEDC’s add value to natural income by manufacturing goods from it  LEDC’s may have greater unprocessed natural capital  The World Bank now calculates a country’s wealth by including the rate of extraction of natural resources and the ecological damage caused by this.  The depletion of natural resources at unsustainable levels (i.e. providing more natural income than is sustainable), and efforts to conserve these resources are often the source of conflict within and between political parties and countries
  5. 5.  Natural Capital can be classified into 4 groups: 1. Renewable - Living resources that can replace or restock themselves - Usually has solar energy as its primary source of energy - Can run out if not harvested sustainably
  6. 6. 2. Non-renewable: - Exist in finite amounts on Earth - Are not renewed or replaced after being depleted (or if they are, it’s on a geological timescale) - Includes minerals and fossil fuels - Represent short term solutions
  7. 7. 3. Replenishable: - Middle ground between renewable and non- renewable - Are replaceable but over a long enough period of time that they are not renewable, but not so long that they are considered non-renewable - The difference between replenishable and renewable is the difference between the rate of resource use and the rate of resource replacement. - E.g. Groundwater
  8. 8. 4. Recyclable: - Resources that can be transformed into usable materials after already being used for something else. - E.g. iron, aluminium
  9. 9.  What does it mean?
  10. 10.  Living within the means of nature, on the “interest” or sustainable natural income generated by natural capital.  However, economists and environmentalists may have very different views on what is sustainable.  Any society that supports itself in part by depleting essential forms of natural capital is unsustainable.  Why are we so darn unsustainable??
  11. 11.  The Tragedy of the Commons: - When many individuals acting in their own self interest to enjoy or harvest a resource may destroy the long-term future of that resource, leaving none for anyone else - Each individual benefits from taking the resource in the short term  Some people think that the real worth of natural capital is about the same as the value of the gross world product i.e. total global output $65 trillion US per year  However, it could be far more since we are just now beginning to give economic value to soil, water and clean air and to measure the cost of loss of biodiversity.