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Pricing (Nonmarket) Ecosystem Services: The Dream (Part I)

By Sterling Burnett -- July 11, 2013

[Editor note: Last month, a conference–“Evaluating and Trading Ecological Services: Is There a Role for Natural Capital in the Marketplace?”–was held in Houston, Texas. Local environmental activist Jim Blackburn organized the event (interviewed here). Appendix A describes the conference, and Appendix B lists the sessions.

Without a speaker challenging the premise of the conference, MasterResource asked Sterling Burnett of the National Center for Policy Analysis to provide this analysis, which will be forwarded to conference organizers.]

Pricing nonmarket ecosystem services may be a noble goal. But it is conceptually confused and problematic as a guide to real-world action, civic and certainly governmental.

This four-part series substantiates my concerns. After reviewing the general concept, I will examine environmentalist concerns with environmental commodification, review economist concerns with the same, and make final arguments and wrap-up.