Should biodiversity and nature have to earn their keep? What it really means to bring environmental goods into the marketplace
- 342 Downloads
Pursuit of economic gain has sponsored much of our planet’s despoliation. Yet conservation increasingly operates as an economic sector that markets biodiversity, ecosystems, and nature as natural capital, service provider, or option value. This essay first elucidates what basic moral theory says about the principle that the goodness of biodiversity and nature is largely economic. It explains why economic valuations may be morally unimportant, inapt for environmental goods, and subversive of more important ideals. It also shows why neither econometric notions of option value nor Daniel Faith’s qualitative one credibly applies. The essay then turns to what an economic conception of goodness implies for conservation practice. It refers to two prominent conservation organizations, whose conservation principles match the market-based ones of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development’s. The environmental record of the latter organization’s practices according to these principles predicts what their adoption for conservation entails.
KeywordsBiodiversity Economic value Ecosystem services Markets Option value Sustainable development
The author is grateful to his hosts Nathalie Seddon at Oxford University, and Arne Mooers at Simon Fraser University, and for the spirited engagement of audiences at those universities as well as at the meetings of the International Society for Environmental Ethics for the roles of all these persons in catalyzing the development and presentation of this essay’s ideas. The author would also like to express his great gratitude to two Ambio reviewers whose acute questions and comments were the basis for significant improvements in the manuscript.
- Acemoglu, D., and P. Restrepo. 2017. Robots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labor Market. National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper 23285, Cambridge, MA. http://www.nber.org/papers/w23285.pdf. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- AguasDoGandarela.org. 2012. Communication: Vale S.A. do not give up on destroying the Serra do Gandarela, September 24, 2012 http://aguasdogandarela.ning.com/page/comunicado-24set12. Accessed 14 Nov 2017 (in Portuguese).
- Alvarez, L. 2016. Dredging of Miami Port badly damaged coral reef, study finds. The New York Times, May 1, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/02/us/dredging-of-miami-port-badly-damaged-coral-reef-study-finds.html. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- Arthur D. Little International. 2000. Public Finance Balance of Smoking in the Czech Republic: Report to: Philip Morris CR a.s. Praha: Arthur D. Little; November 28, 2000, from http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/content/what_we_do/industry_watch/philip_morris_czech/pmczechstudy.pdf. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- Bryson, G. 2009. State sues US to get beluga whale listing rescinded. Anchorage Daily News, January 15, 2009, https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/article/state-sues-us-get-beluga-whale-listing-rescinded/2009/01/15/. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- Business and Biodiversity Offsets Programme (BBOP). 2009. Biodiversity Offset Cost-Benefit Handbook. Business and Biodiversity Offsets Programme, Washington D. http://www.forest-trends.org/documents/files/doc_3094.pdf. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- Chuitna Citizens Coalition. 2016. Proposed Chuitna coal strip mine, from http://savethechuitna.org/. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- Daily, G., and K. Ellison. 2002. The new economy of nature: The quest to make conservation profitable. Washington: Island Press.Google Scholar
- Díaz, S., S. Demissew, J. Carabias, C. Joly, W.M. Lonsdale, N. Ash, A. Larigauderie, J.R. Adhikari, et al. 2015b. The IPBES conceptual framework: Connecting nature and people. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 14: 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2014.11.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Fagin, D., 2016. A Mine vs. a Million Monarchs. The New York Times, April 29, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/01/opinion/sunday/in-a-poor-mexican-town-saving-butterflies-or-creating-jobs.html. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- Faith, D.P. 2015. The more biodiversity the better: the philosophy of option value. Poster for Oxford Biosymposium 2015. http://australianmuseum.net.au/uploads/documents/33088/faith%20final%20the%20more%20biodiversity%20the%20better.pdf. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- Faith, D.P. 2016. Biodiversity. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2016 Edition), ed. E.N. Zalta. https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2016/entries/biodiversity/.
- FAO Newroom. 2004. Coffee crisis: FAO helps Nicaragua’s small-scale growers, 20 January 2004, http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2004/35687/index.html. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- Global Exchange. 2016. 2016 Top Ten Corporate Criminals, https://globalexchange.org/campaigns/corporatecriminals2016/. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- Global Exchange. 2017a. 2017 top 10 corporate criminals, https://globalexchange.org/campaigns/corporatecriminals2017/. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- Global Exchange. 2017b. Top ten corporate criminals alumni, https://globalexchange.org/corporate-criminals-alumni/. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). 2015a. Preliminary guide regarding diverse conceptualization of multiple values of nature and its benefits, including biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services. IPBES, December 2015, Bonn. http://www.ipbes.net/sites/default/files/downloads/IPBES-4-INF-13_EN.pdf. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). 2015b. IPBES and business, from https://web.archive.org/web/20151004123328/http://ipbes.net/index.php/stakeholder/private-sector (also http://tinyurl.com/ipbes-private-stakeholder). Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). 2017. Ecosystem services evaluation, from http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=6383. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- Karabel, J., and D. Laurison. 2011. Outlier Nation? American Exceptionalism and the Quality of Life in the United States, IRLE Working Paper No. 112-11. Institute for Research on Labor and Emploment (IRLE), Berekeley, CA. http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/3xr5r6c4.
- Larigauderie, A., and H.A. Mooney. 2010. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Moving a step closer to an IPCC-like mechanism for biodiversity. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability (COSUST) 2: 9–14. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2010.02.006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Linnaeus, C., and I. Biberg. 1775. The œconomy of nature. In Miscellaneous tracts relating to natural history, husbandry, and physick. To which is added the calendar of flora, 3rd ed., tr. B. Stillingfleet. London: Dodsley, Baker and Leigh, and Payne. https://ia801406.us.archive.org/19/items/miscellaneoustr00unkngoog/miscellaneoustr00unkngoog.pdf. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- Marris, E. 2011. Rambunctions garden: Saving nature in a post-wild world. New York: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
- Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis. Washington, DC: Island Press. https://www.millenniumassessment.org/documents/document.356.aspx.pdf. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- Moskowitz, D. 2016. Caribou recovery falters in Canada. The High Country News 48: 8–9, http://www.hcn.org/issues/48.18/in-canada-mountain-caribou-recovery-falters. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- O’Neill, J. 2015. Sustainability. In The Routledge handbook of global ethics, ed. D. Moellendorf, and H. Widdows, 401–415. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) (2016a). Toxic 100 air polluters index. Political Economy Research Institute (PERI). University of Mass., Amherst, http://www.peri.umass.edu/toxic-100-air-polluters-index-2016-report-based-on-2014-data. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- Political Economy Research Institute (PERI). (2016b). Toxic 100 water polluters index. Political Economy Research Institute (PERI). University of Mass., Amherst, http://www.peri.umass.edu/water-100-polluters-index. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- Rojas, C.M.O., and D.B. Pereira. 2015. Corporate policies and strategies of territorial control: VALE S.A and the conflicts in the Serra do Gandarela/MG. Novos Cadernos 18(3): 29–49, from http://www.periodicos.ufpa.br/index.php/ncn/article/viewFile/2222/2727. Accessed 14 Nov 2017 (in Portuguese, English summary).
- Sandel, M.J. 2012. What money can’t buy: The limits of markets. New York: Ferrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
- Stevens, S.S. 1946. On the Theory of Scales of Measurement. Science 103: 677–680. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1671815.
- World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD). 2010a. Rio Tinto Corporate Ecosystem Valuation (CEV) Road Test Summary (Work in progress). Available from the author. Retrieved 23 November 2015, http://www.wbcsd.org/work-program/sector-projects/water/water-leadership-group.aspx. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD). 2010b. Effective Biodiversity and Ecosystem Policy and Regulation. WBCSD, October 2010, Conches-Geneva. http://www.wbcsd.org/Clusters/Ecosystems-Landscape-Management/Resources/Effective-biodiversity-ecosystem-policyregulation-Business-input-COP10-convention-on-biological-diversity (also http://tinyurl.com/wbcsd-biodiversity-policy). Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD). 2011. Guide to Corporate Ecosystem Valuation: A Framework for Improving Corporate Decision-Making: Business Input to the COP10 of the Convention on Biological Diversity. WBCSD, April 2011, Conches-Geneva. http://www.wbcsd.org/Clusters/Ecosystems-Landscape-Management/Resources/Guide-to-Corporate-Ecosystem-Valuation (also http://tinyurl.com/wbcsd-cev). Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD). 2015. Water Leadership Group, from http://web.archive.org/web/20120615140623/wbcsd.org/work-program/sector-projects/water/water-leadership-group.aspx. Retrieved 23 November 2015, http://www.wbcsd.org/web/ecosystems/RTSummaries/Rio_Tinto_CEV_Summary.pdf. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.
- World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 2011. Business Involvement in the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). WBCSD-IUCN Information Paper, Nairobi, Kenya. https://www.iucn.org/downloads/annex_iii_wbcsb_iucn_statement_1.pdf. Accessed 14 Nov 2017.