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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    Apr 29 2012: Since companies have been moving towards organic it feels the label is less and less clear. They use it now more of a marketing term rather than something that was grown in a more natural way. I try when possible to buy from local markets and actually know it was organic because I can speak with the person who grew the item. I like knowing the products are organically grown, but it still holds little weight when I purchase items at a store. Farming is still clearing out an area and generally creating a less biodiverse area than before. Plus not all organic farming methods are better for the environment. At this point it still takes too much effort for most consumers to truly find out where their food comes from and how it was grown.

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