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Ecosystem Valuation - Controversy and Views

Question:

Do Ecosystem Services have Economic Value? Explain.

Yes: There are certain environmental critics, who believe that the economic valuations of the ecosystem services are beneficial for the nature as it helps in protecting the natural resources of the nature. The economic valuation of the ecosystem services helped in protecting it resources by stating the fact that if there is an economical valuation of the natural resources then it will affect the human behavior.

No: There are certain environmental critics who believe that the economical valuations of the ecosystem services are harmful for the nature. According to these critics it would encourage the capitalist mind set of  the “master-servant” relationship and would encourage people to go for the protection of only those environmental resources, that good for the human kinds but not for the society in general.

The task of ecosystem valuation is a topic that is controversial in nature. There are few economists, who believe that, the nature is something, where there should not be a price tag. Thus, the economists believe that there should not be any price tag attached with the ecosystem. On the other hand, there is another group of environmental economists, who believe that the ecosystem should have an economic value and only then, it could be protected for the future generation and for the greater human kind.

The role of “valuation” of the ecosystem is a recent issue in the environmental philosophy, and thus it plays an important role in the environmental policy and decision-making process. The debate that is there on the value of ecosystem can be derived from two very different points of views and those are the anthropocentric and the non-anthropocentric view. The non-anthropocentric view stresses on the fact that the non-human species have certain values as well as moral in them. The anthropocentric view on the other hand, had an economic approach to the valuation of the ecosystem. A committee charged the first view or the non-anthropocentric view, while they try to assess the value of both the aquatic and the terrestrial ecosystem with the help of the economic method. Therefore, the report that was presented by the committee is mainly focused on that ecological system that can be captured by the economical value.

The people who believe that the ecosystem or rather the ecosystem services should have an economic value, state the fact that the moral values could not reduce the destruction of the nature. Along with the economic growth and the growth of the population, depletion has increased and the moral argument became insignificant and insufficient. The only hope therefore, was, realizing the fact that the nature is essential for the overall economical development. The message that these environmental economists tried to convey was that without the nature there would be nothing left for the economy. Therefore, it is important to create a bridge between economy and ecology, so that both could go in hand in hand. Thus, the nature or the ecosystem is being provided with an economic valuation, which will help in the protection of the nature or the ecology.

Role of 'Valuation' in Environmental Policy

The people who have used the resources of the nature for economic purpose, they could only be convinced to protect the resources of the nature, by conveying the message that the nature’s resources have tangible financial values. Therefore, the values of the resources are the measurable values and thus, they should preserve and protected. In case of convincing the people who are using the natural resources for the economical purpose, moral argument would not be sufficient and thus there is a need to have an economic valuation of the ecosystem services.

If this is one way of looking at the issue then there is another way to look at this issue as well. Another way includes the viewpoint of those environmental economists who have associated the dangerous side of this particular valuation of the ecosystem services. According to many environmental economists is if there is a price tag on the nature, then it will, have a negative consequences as well. One of the main reasons behind this is the PES or the payment for ecosystem services, which the environmentalists had criticized because they think that it is quite an alarming thing for the world. The rhetoric is a heated rhetoric and this particular rhetoric even prevented the Britain government to ell of their national forest even under fierce public opposition. According to many environmental critics, the PES transaction could even go wrong at certain circumstances, and this could happen mainly because of the question of the price that is attached to it. According to environmental critics even if a price is given to the ecological resources or to the ecosystem the question that remains whether any one has the legitimate right to sell of the natural resources or not. Especially in case of the developing countries, it is difficult to find legitimate owner for the natural resources because of the issues related to lack of documentation and political influence.

The risk of perverse incentive remain attached to the payment schemes because if the system ask any landowner to create carbon bank then the land owner may plant genetically modified and even to non-native species to create it. At the same time, the economical valuation of the ecosystem services could discourage those phenomena that are good for the biodiversity but could bring in a bad effect for the human community. The things include disasters like fire, flood and other things. Moreover, the environmentalists point out that the climate is a joker and could change the whole array of this particular construction.

The environmental critics do not support the system of providing economic value to the ecosystem services because they think that it is completely a capitalist view that could help in establishing the “master-servant” relationship again. The critics provide the examples of some past revolutions, such as the enclosure of common land during the eighteenth century in Britain, the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century, shattered the relationship human beings had with the nature. The farmers are turned to factory workers, who use to serve for the capitalist purpose. The critics believed the economic valuation of the ecosystem service would come at the cost o cultural and psychological upheaval. They feel that there will be “a major new wave of capture and enclosure of Nature by capital.”

Economic Valuation - A Bridge between Ecology and Economy?

Yes: Lavelle, Marianne. "Big Energy Question: How Do We Make Cities Sustainable?". National Geographic. N.p., 2016. Print.

No: Cohen, Steven. "Sustainable Cities Are Where Human Potential Can Be Realized". The Huffington Post. N.p., 2016. Print.

Yes: The critics argue that it would not be very difficult in creating the sustainable cities by following some simple measures, such mass transit and preserving the heritage and the architecture of the city.

No: Critics argue that most of the developing countries have such an infrastructure that creating sustainable cities is an impossible thing.

According to the United Nation organization by the year 2050, the number population in the cities will be around 6.3 million. The huge population in the cities pose a question, whether or not there will be a quality life in the city. The quality life in the city is possible if the cities are clean, and if the difference between the number or poor and the rich people living in the cities are less. According to many critics and scholars if in the urban areas there is, a positive impact on the poor as well as on poverty then that would lead to the sustainable development of the cities. Therefore, sustainable developments of the cities are required because it would help in reducing the usage of those agricultural lands that are unnecessarily being used for the purpose of urbanization.

The sustainable urban development make sure that the good quality of life is being offered to the people currently in the city and at the same time it ensures that the future generation could enjoy the same thing at the same time. Making the cities sustainable for the people include many things, such as mass transit. The use of public transit is a way to reduce traffic congestion that is there in the city. The use of public transit could actually help in reducing and could make the process of moving towards a sustainable city possible. The critics also believed that the process of making a sustainable city is possible by making more efficient building. According to the critics most of the buildings in this developed world, are responsible for the emission of the carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide, emission, is there because of the cooling, powering and the heating buildings. If the buildings are made in a better as well as in an insulated way then it would not have been very difficult for the world to create sustainable cities, where there can be a quality of life, which would help the people living in the  cities.

Another way of making the cities sustainable is by preserving the historical structures and the architecture. Most of the cities due to the growing population could preserve its culture and architecture, but if they could preserve it then they could actually help in creating a sustainable city for the both the present and the future generation.

There is although, another view, through which it is possible to look at this particular point and that is unless the population of the whole world is reduced it is impossible to make the cities sustainable. According to critics the sustainability of the world or rather the cities are affected because of the growth of the population. The growth of the population led to the huge consumption of the natural resources and the fossil fuels, which has prevented the sustainable growth of the urban areas.

Perverse Incentives of Payment for Ecosystem Services

 Another most important argument that is being put forward by the critics against the possibility of making a sustainable city is the fact that most of the developing countries in the world provide a poor working condition to the worker. The working conditions are not only poor but at the same time, they are oppressive and dangerous. The sustainable development of the city based on the brain-based, economy, the infrastructure, the educational and the health care facility that is being given to the people and the social services that is being provided to the people. In most of the developing countries, the infrastructure is such that the social services and the health care facility that is being given to the people are poor; things like proper sanitation facilities are not there in the developing countries. Therefore, it could be reason behind the impossibility that is associated with making cities sustainable, according to few critics and scholars. If most of the cities in the world, be it the developing countries or the developed countries; do not have proper facility to treat the sewage and solid waste, then creating a sustainable city will again be an impossible thing for the human kind. Making a sustainable city not only requires clean air, food and water but it is lot more than that. The making of the sustainable city requires good amount of investment, of time and money as well as the investment of the energy at the same time. In the 20th century, such types of investment were readily acceptable and such a kind of investment occurred at the same time. Now, with the change in time, things have changed a lot as well. Today, people have forgotten to invest their money in these things and thus it has become impossible to create a sustainable city for both the future and the present generation.

There is another important thing that is required for the sustainable growth of the cities and that is the good governance. Most of the critics are of the opinion that the developing countries have an instable political environment that could not help in creating a sustainable government, which would help in creating the sustainable cities.

References

Agardy, Tundi. "Opinion: The Value Of Ecosystem Services Valuations - Ecosystem Marketplace". Ecosystem Marketplace. N.p., 2016. Print.

"BBC - GCSE Bitesize: Sustainable Cities". Bbc.co.uk. N.p., 2016. Print.

Cohen, Steven. "Sustainable Cities Are Where Human Potential Can Be Realized". The Huffington Post. N.p., 2016. Print.

Conniff, Richard. "What’S Wrong With Putting A Price On Nature? By Richard Conniff: Yale Environment 360". E360.yale.edu. N.p., 2016. Print.

"Facts And Forecasts: Economic Imbalances Are Growing In Cities Worldwide". Siemens.com. N.p., 2016. Print.

Juniper, Tony. "We Must Put A Price On Nature If We Are Going To Save It | Tony Juniper". the Guardian. N.p., 2012. Print.

Lavelle, Marianne. "Big Energy Question: How Do We Make Cities Sustainable?". National Geographic. N.p., 2016. Print.

Pagiola, Stefano, Konard vo Ritter, and Joshua Bishop. "Assessing The Economic Value Of Ecosystem Conservation". N.p., 2016. Print.

"PBS - Bill Moyers Reports: Earth On Edge - Agricultural Ecosystems". Pbs.org. N.p., 2016. Print.

Population Distribution, Urbanization, Internal Migration And Development: An International Perspective. 1st ed. Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division: N.p., 2016. Print.

"Sustainable Cities: Challenges And Opportunities In Jakarta On Vimeo". Vimeo.com. N.p., 2015. Print.

"Valuing Ecosystem Services". (2004): n. pag. Web. 27 May 2016.

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