Why Value Earth’s Ecosystems?

“Nature should be valued for its intrinsic worth, over and above any economic factors. However, right now, we’re losing nature because we don’t price it in . . . (TEEB).”

What Are Ecosystem Services?

Earth’s natural systems are humanity’s “life support,” providing valuable services upon which our ability to survive depends. From the air we breathe to the pollination of our food crops, we rely on ecosystems to provide us the essentials for life. Ecosystem services have been described as “The Benefits Nature Provides (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005).” The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment identifies 24 specific ecosystem services, and groups them into four categories: provisioning services (producing food, fiber, fuel, water, etc.), regulating services (regulating climate, air quality, water purification, pollination, etc.) cultural services (providing spiritual, educational, aesthetical values, etc.) and supporting services (soil formation, photosynthesis, water cycling and nutrient cycling) (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005).

Continue reading “Why Value Earth’s Ecosystems?”

Ecosystem Markets for Urban Forestry

“All humans depend on services supplied by ecosystems, either directly or indirectly (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005).”

Human life wouldn’t survive without healthy ecosystems. Humans are dependent on ecosystem service ranging from pollination of food crops to oxygen from trees and other vegetation. However, human activities are causing the Earth’s greatest extinction of biodiversity (the key to healthy ecosystems). “The observed rates of species extinction in modern times are 100 to 1,000 times higher than the average rates for comparable groups estimated from the fossil record (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005).”

This mass extinction is a direct result of humans consuming and destroying ecosystems. Since the beginning of the industrial age, human populations have grown and individual consumption has increased. “Increasing consumption per person, multiplied by a growing human population, are the root causes of the increasing demand for ecosystem services (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005).”

Continue reading “Ecosystem Markets for Urban Forestry”

Afraid of Numbers Part 1: Assessing the risk of vaccination and infectious disease in America

What is the risk of vaccination vs non-vaccination?

Baby with measles, source: Wikipedia

A few months ago a bunch of kids caught measles at Disneyland. [1] Scary. But, do you know what else is scary? In the aftermath of the outbreak, concerned citizens, health practitioners, government officials, the media, and mothers alike hurled insults at one another, accused one another of ignorance and deceit, and, in some cases, accused one another of murder.[2]

It is not surprising, really. The stakes are high. We are talking about the health of society, the health of our children, the risks of tinkering with the human immune system, the risks of life-threatening diseases, and the risk of death.

Perhaps you believe there are no risks. Perhaps you believe vaccines are 100% safe, 100% effective, and those who believe otherwise are gullible victims of faulty science and/or disillusioned conspiracy theorists. Or, perhaps you believe the risk of an otherwise healthy individual contracting a life-threatening disease in the developed world is but fear mongering propaganda in the hands of corrupt pharmaceuticals. Either way, the data suggests otherwise. 

Continue reading “Afraid of Numbers Part 1: Assessing the risk of vaccination and infectious disease in America”