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: If organic produce is grown locally, is in season, and I am unable to grow it myself, then I am willing to pay extra for it.

    Produce that has been organically grown in a country thousands of miles away and has to be flown in or shipped, effectively has completely destroyed its organic status, because of the fossil fuels/emissions it has taken to get it from there to here. So I will not buy it.

    Perhaps this points towards the general direction where society should be heading - Local economies that are less reliant on finite resources, instead of globalised economies that are?

    This will impact on the health and well-being of ecosystems generally, as we wean ourselves off our addiction to oil.
    • May 2 2012: i think the principle of buying organic over industrial agriculture still sets a precedent of better consumer practices.

      I do agree with your statement about needing to build up local economies in order to ween our society off of fossil fuels. A self-sufficient, local economy seems to me as the most logical and feasible option for directions to move society in. The building of a localized economy will also rebuild people's sense of community and willingness to do their part to make their town/city/hometown a better place for all.

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