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 2 2012: Personally, I can't be bothered to pay the extra cash for organic produce. It's really a matter of convenience as opposed to health or ethics for me. My personal shopping habits aside, I question organic farming's benefit towards ecosystem services. I don't see any evidence that proves that a USDA sticker will improve an ecosystem. I have to agree with some of the earlier posters who say that locality is more important than general organic status.

    I think I would be more open to paying for cultural ecosystem services like trees and parks. Services like these have a larger and more personal effect on my daily life. I don't think about things like pollination often, so it's hard to put a price on it or even know who to start paying.

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