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Biology, Sustainability

To talk about money or not

I just read two recent articles. The first, by Masood (2022) reflects on a recent report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. This report basically says we should 1) stop relying on short term economic value of nature and 2) consider multiple types and sources of value including sociocultural value.

I think this is important because if done it would contribute to greater equity and sustainability. It’s harder, for example, to maintain a cultural practice that relies on a certain natural feature if you can no longer access that feature. It could also, perhaps, open a way of thinking to more people where the connections between humans and nature are seen in a more interrelated way.

And then I read an article by Bishop, Garratt, and Nakagawa (2022) about how pollinators contribute to crop production stability. In other words, natural pollinators increase crop yield and keep that yield more stable from year to year which can help to stabilize food prices. As food prices are currently soaring for a couple of reasons, including the war on Ukraine, having greater yield and more stability could result in more families being able to eat healthy and regularly.

In the second article, there was a pretty good financial argument for keeping pollinators around. But, thanks to the first article, I wonder what other really good reasons have been missed because of the focus on economics. What might be the cultural significance of the crops we would lose or just not be able to access due to cost with no pollinators? Would our health be impacted? What about our social connections?

I think it is often easy to be, at least in the short term, swayed by arguments of money, and we need these arguments in our current society. But we shouldn’t be stopping there. What value do things have beyond their monetary one? Who values it and for what and why? Not all value can be measured in dollars and cents but we need to remember that and ask the questions of the communities involved.

About Tai Munro

I am passionate about making science, sustainability, and sport accessible through engaging information and activities.


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