For the longest time, humans have assumed that they are separate from the natural world and that nature provides infinite commodities. These two assumptions helped fuel the industrial revolution, but at the same time, resulted in the abuse of nature and in the climate crisis. We need a new paradigm, a new way of thinking which recognizes that humans are part of the natural world and that nature is a finite input into our lives and livelihood. This realization—of the value of nature—allows us to develop a framework for natural resource valuation that also directly addresses the fundamental collective action problem in environmental protection.
Ralph highlights how their valuation framework uses the lessons of behavioral economics to create values that individual decision makers find credible and relatable, in addition to stimulating excitement or concern that is essential to prompting action around environmental issues. He then discusses how to apply this framework to value forest elephants in Africa and great whales that are found off the coasts of Brazil and Chile. The values they estimate for individual members of these species are significant: $1.75 million per forest elephant and an average of $2 million per whale.
He then discusses how their valuations lead to new designs for environmental preservation and restoration policies. Finally, he sketches how we can build a new economy that partners with the natural world to ensure a sustainable, inclusive and nature-friendly economic growth.
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Read the published paper here.