Friday, May 18, 2007

External Costs

Unfortunately, the American economic system doesn’t value nature. Because it is capitalistic, material value is only considered, and it is rated by cost. Since it is so hard to determine the value of nature, it has been rendered valueless, which is certainly not the same is priceless. Many have tried to figure out what the value of nature would be.

Many things must be taken into account—for example, a tree would not just be the cost of its wood, but all the creatures it affects and the environment it affects have to be considered. I created an equation that I think includes all the important aspects of a tree.

A tree is made of partially water and also wood. Its roots prevent soil erosion and it takes carbon dioxide out of the air, which protects us from global warming. It also puts oxygen into the atmosphere, which helps us breathe. It is also the home to many creatures.

So, the value of a tree would be the value of the water it holds (H2O) + the value of the land it protects (L) + how much it would cost to fix soil erosion (S) + the value of how much oxygen it puts into the atmosphere (O2) + the value of each creature that depends on it (C). So, Tree (T) = H2O + L + S + CO2 + O2 + C.
But, wait! We must figure out the value of each creature that a tree houses. Creature (C) = value of the amount of land it saves from overpopulation of its prey (L) + value of energy it produces (P) + value of each creature it keeps alive by being its prey (C).

Therefore, C = L + P + C; therefore C is infinite; therefore the value of a tree is infinite. I’m not even going into how valuable land is, because of how many creatures it keeps alive.

It is impossible to accurately determine the value of a tree, or any life for that matter. In this economy, maybe for now, it is important to at least value nature at something. But it should be pretty damn expensive.