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Sydni Rucks

TEDCRED 50+

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What are ecosystem services that you rely on everyday? Are you willing to pay for them?

Ecosystem services are what we gain from an ecosystem, be it medicines, clean water, or any cultural and spiritual benefits we get from nature. Ecosystem services are not specific to the science realm and they are open to interpretation based on our individual views. What ecosystem services do you value?

Although ecosystem services have monetary value, determining pricing has proven challenging. For example, every time you shop for produce, you can choose to support the ecosystem services offered by organic farming. There has been a boom in the organic foods market due to the ever-growing assumption that organic farming methods contribute to ecosystem services including increased pollination (bee populations are higher due to larger production of flowers on organic farms), increased biodiversity, natural pest control, and natural soil fertility. Are these methods worth the extra cost at the grocery store? What factors do you consider when making your choice between conventionally and organically grown produce? What are ways to promote organic farming, or more generally the valuation of ecosystem services, so that more people will be inspired to pay for the benefits?

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  • Apr 30 2012: Nature provides so many services, and in such complex overlapping ways, that it is extremely difficult for me to identify any one that I consider more important or valuable than the others. I would consider the ability to sustainably provide clean air, water, and food to be the most essential ecosystem services for humans, but different ecosystems have very different ways of providing these needs and we need to preserve this diversity to be prepared to meet our needs, whatever our future environmental conditions may be.

    As a consumer, it is often difficult to balance our ideals and our budget. I would like to live off solely organic food, which internalizes the costs of many negative externalities caused by industrial food production, but there are many times, that due to my budget constraints, I simply cannot afford to do so. Education is the main way to increase peoples awareness of ecosystem services and get more people involved in their protection.
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      May 1 2012: I think you bring up a great point, Billy. Education is really the best way to get the word out about different, more sustainable practices or just ecosystem services in general. What do you think the best way to get people educated would be? Is there an age limit to the education, or just a modified way of reaching older audiences who might be more resistant to changing?

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