The concept of pricing ecosystem services and allowing them to be bought and sold has gained wide acceptance among conservationists in recent years. But does this approach merely obscure nature’s true value and put the natural world at even greater risk? “ (Source: Yale e360)

Excellent article in Yale’s Environment 360 on the important debate about pricing of natural capital. Is putting a price on externalities and services of nature the future of environmentalism or a new capitulation to the power of finance capitalism?

Sian Sullivan, a University of London anthropologist, warns that past revolutions in capital investment, like the enclosure of common lands in eighteenth-century Britain, and the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century, resulted in “the shattering of peoples’ relationships with landscapes” and the conversion of rural folk into factory workers and service-providers for capital. In the ecosystem services movement, Sullivan warns, we are seeing “a major new wave of capture and enclosure of Nature by capital.” And it will come, she says, at the cost of profound cultural and psychological upheaval.
It may be, as some argue, that we have no better way to save the world. But the danger in the process is that we may lose our souls. “