TED Conversations

Sydni Rucks


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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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    May 1 2012: Before I took this biodiversity class, I never know what ecosystem services were. And I never thought about the organic products in this way before either. I knew organic products were good for the environment but a little over priced, so I never bothered with them. However, since this class, and learning about the impact us humans have on biodiversity and how important biodiversity was for this planet, I have considered doing my share of work to protect this planet. It was hard for me to think of ways to make a good impact, but this is a way. Its never about making a big impact from the start, but more about making incremental changes at a time and watching them pile up. Nevertheless, the money aspect of this is a factor. I believe this is a good way to help protect Earth's biodiversity, but because it is slightly more expensive than the regular products, it is only limited to the people that can afford it, therefore limiting its potential impact. I would pay extra for organic products that serve as a way that conserves biodiversity, but to increase its impact, I think it would be beneficial to make it more accessible by lowering the cost.

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