Eco-Capital… It’s Really a Thing

SciShort_6_18_15When we look back on civilization’s imprints on nature, it’s easy to think how stupid and shortsighted we have been/are. But it’s not so easy to see the long-term value in resources versus the short-term gain. Fortunately, a new report summarizing several studies, spearheaded by OSU research, shows us exactly how both the private and public sectors are starting to understand the value of our natural surroundings and how they can be sustainably maximized.

Dr. Jane Lubchenco, a distinguished professor at OSU and the former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), was a co-leader on the group of studies. She commented on the value of the studies in a press release.

“Valuing nature means understanding the myriad ways in which our communities, health, and economies depend on ecosystems,” said Lubchenco. “There is now broad appreciation of nature’s values and we are learning how to incorporate that knowledge into policy and management decisions by governments, financial institutions, and businesses. In 10 years we’ve gone from very little specific understanding to powerful examples, where working with nature is benefitting people now and in the future.”

This is a difficult concept to make people understand, as it can seem vague without hard data to back it up. That’s what makes these new studies so powerful; they highlight the successes we’re experiencing worldwide in turning the tide against ecological Armageddon, which is at least five to ten times more serious than Michael Bay’s Armageddon.

For example, there’s Costa Rica, a rainforest haven that used to suffer the world’s highest rate of deforestation, and now is a net re-foresting country. Domestically, we’re starting to see success in turning around our drastically overtaxed fisheries and making them healthy again. But of course there remains a lot of work to be done.

“Our global economic, political, and social systems depend on the world’s natural resources, but many policy decisions do not yet explicitly incorporate natural capital into the decision-making process,” said Lubchenco in the press release. “However, these new results from around the world show what works. The real opportunity is widespread adoption of these ideas and approaches.”

By Sidney Reilly