Thursday, May 8, 2014

Schism over nature conservation

The May 12 New Yorker had a well-written piece on the Nature Conservancy. In a concise fashion, they frame the debate over nature conservation well.

On the one hand, there is the current head of TNC (Mark Tercek) and its chief scientist (Peter Kareiva) advocating for nature conservation through economic valuation.

On the other hand you have ecologists like Michael Soulé and Reed Noss who believe that the value of nature transcends economics and should be conserved independent of economic valuation.

The economic valuation approach lead to partnering with Fortune 500 companies to reform their practices in favor of conserving nature where economics align. It produces books entitled Nature's Fortune.

The transcendent approach works with individuals and governments to conserve Nature for its own sake. It produces books entitled Nature's Keepers.

The inside view of the debate is enlightening.

Both approaches should coexist in the world, but you wonder if they can coexist in the same organization.

Answering this requires answering whether economic valuation and transcendence reinforce one another or are they antagonistic?

That calculation might be even too hard for the economists.

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