034 Nature and man’s economic system

Many kinds of public actions of sweeping importance to natural systems are justified on various kinds of cost benefit ratios based on money in such a way as to ignore the important values not part of the money economy. In some public hearings and court cases in 1969 the side of the greater good has been reinforced with ecosystem network diagrams which can readily show the fallacies and incomplete calculations by developers such as the Army Engineers and large corporations. Figure 10-8, for example, shows the greatest energy values without dollar equivalents. However, it is possible to reverse the calculation which we did on work equivalents of dollars. We can put dollar values on the ecosystem energies using the dollar/calorie equivalent of the whole economy as a rough approximation. For example, in an incident in North Carolina, surveyors cutting a swath through a public recreation park with climax forest claimed that their damage to the public per acre was $64 for the wood they cut. Public protest reflected the deep sense that this was not just. First consider the actual value in energy units and convert. The value as a public recreation and life-support system is its replacement cost. To replace complex, diverse, and beautiful forest requires about 100 years. The photosynthesis per square meter of a forest may be approximately 40 kcal/ (m2) (day). The dollar equivalent of work driven by organic fuels is about 10,000 kcal / dollar. With 4047 m2 / acre, the dollar value of replacement of an acre of this forest is $590,000 per acre. Losing the development value of 100 years for an acre of land is a major loss. A single tree of about 100 years of age is estimated in this way to be worth $3000.