A short intro to environmental valuation with a (pretty) infographic

As an environmental economist I’m blessed/cursed with having a profession and skillset that not many people have heard of.  So I am of course often asked what an environmental economist does, which is a valid enough question.  What is environmental economics anyway, and why should people who care about the environment know or care about environmental economics?

Although in many ways environmental economics is a broad field and there are many applications for it, I often go for the one I think most people will be able to identify with: environmental valuation, or trying to identify the economic value of the evironment.

Many people might find the thought of ‘pricing the environment’ barbaric, but it is actually a very useful tool, not just for environmentalists speaking to decision makers, but for decision makers themselves to see what value there is in the natural environment so that it can be compared against projects they might be thinking of implementing which may threaten that natural environment.

But you might wonder how does one even begin to value the natural environment?  It is of course very hard, and never certain, and there are always values we leave out.  But perhaps this beautiful infographic the Natural Capital Forum recently released might help you get an idea of the types of things we include in the valuation.

Source: Guardian UK; The World Forum on Natural Capital
Infographic source: The Guardian; The World Forum on Natural Capital.

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