1 Episode results for "Stephen Polaski"
Nature's Goods and Services Get Priced
"This is scientific. American sixty second science. I'm Julia Roseanne. Gross Domestic Product the GDP is a simple way to describe the health of big complicated economies, and for the last century, the goal of many countries has been to make their GDP. Go Up, but concentrating only on GDP has had some downsides in growing the economy we have as an unintended consequence, destroyed parts of nature which are also important for our well-being Stephen Polaski an environmental economist at the University of Minnesota. He and his colleagues have created a new measurement, the gross ecosystem product or P. So that we actually have metrics that say. How are we doing on ecosystem management, managing nature, and not just for Nature Sake, but how is that coming back and influencing our own well-being? really G EP is trying to say what is the contribution of nature to the economy so in a parallel way to what GDP does in measuring economic performance tallying up the economic. Economic value of timber and fisheries is fairly straightforward, but other benefits of a healthy environment can be less obvious. Insects pollinate crops. Intact rivers improve water, quality and buffer downstream cities from floods, thriving ecosystems draw tourists who spend money and part of the issue here is that it is difficult to price some of these things you know. Some people even say while they're price less. What it means in practice, priceless means it has zero value in much of the calculations, zero value in the GDP, but not in the EP for example Pulaski and his colleagues calculated the figure for Qinghai a province in western China, they found that the gross ecosystem product exceeded GDP in the year two thousand and three quarters of GDP in twenty fifteen over that period GDP rose by one hundred and twenty seven percent thanks to major restoration efforts and the increasing value of water. The results are in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers focused on Ching Hai because it's one of several provinces where the Chinese government is experimenting with using GP as part of its formal decision making process for instance, GDP can help officials weigh the pros and cons of potential projects like dams, or it can be used to show whether local leaders are taking care of the environment and not just expanding the economy. GP could also serve as the basis for programs that pay residents to be good stewards of the natural resources that benefit themselves and others and Ching Hai such a program could work for water. The province is where the Yellow Yangtze and Mekong rivers originate, and their water sustained cities and farms across Asia. Polaski says their work is just a first step, and he expects EP to be refined over time, but he says we have to start somewhere. We are actually going to have a sustainable civilization than than we have to pay attention to kind of the infrastructure, basically the essential things that nature does for us and not continue to just take them for granted. Thanks for listening for scientific American sixty seconds. Science I'm Julia Rosen.