Information and Diagnoses
See "Services" under Synergism in Chapter 15 System Processes in Rural System? ... Just Dreaming
These interactions and feedbacks are so complex that they nearly defy human understanding.
N.R. French, 1972
Concept parallel? A therapist may be called to meet the needs of addicts. Is that that a service ... to call?... the action of the therapist? Parallel for "service" within "ecological services"?
See Ecological Impacts of Economic Activities
In a major article in Bioscience (vol 47:747-757), the global ecological life support system, i.e., ecological services and natural capital, was analyzed. The phrases and concepts were mixed and cause and effect were often disputable, but the analysis suggested that world ecological services were worth $2.9 trillion annually. The actual amounts hardly seem relevant. The list is important for it might become the basis for a consequence table, one depicting the changes in system processes and thus outputs of systems when modified by some process or form.
In addition to producing things, land also provides services such as retaining water, decomposing waste, and cooling air. It (land as a platform) )provides options for the future which may be services but also provides the production itself, the action of producing the "product units." We call the variety of services, functions, or processes (all verbs) service units. They are rate- and area-related but always have a nominal product unit as their fundamental measure. We know a "condition" at a specific time by its product and benefit units resulting from service units (or lack of them).
A built structure (e.g., a bridge, a warehouse) may provide services. Perhaps the origin and destination platforms are the real service units.
Harvey (1979:450, recognizing 10 services, said, minizing these concepts, "these are extremely broad categories because they include all the values that people have placed upon the land."
In another paper Costanza, R. R. d'Arget, de Groot, S. Farber, M. Grasso, B Hannon, K. Limburg, S. Naeem, R.V. O'Neill, J. Paruelo, R.G. Raskin, P. Sutton, and M. van den Belt. 1997. The value of the world's ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature 387 (6230) reported that the ecological services were of 17 types in 16 biomes. The estimate was $16-54 trillion and averaged $33 trillion per year.
They said, for comparison, the gross "global national" product (for all of the world's countries) was $18 trillion per year.
The biome analyses required summing of (the services in each biome/unit area) x (area of each biome)
The 17 services highlighted in this paper (shown here) can be compared to those listed below. The services are changing flows of matter or material, energy, and information:
The categories can become difficult and naming them is, in part, influenced by the ability to provide a word for and measure of them.
Whether a life-saving use has been found for a plant (e.g., Taxis brevifolia as a deterrent to cancer cell growth) can be called a service seems worth discussing. The plant exists, does nothing, until a use is discovered ... and that implemented by people. One cactus (Hoodia gordonii) needles reduce appetite of desert travelers. Pharmaceuticals (anaesthesia, poison, medicines) as a group, real or potential, may be resources but serving them up as services of ecological systems seems petty and mis use of the word. Does an iron ore seam perform a service?
Psychologists say people are reluctant to change. We may need a strong perception of dire consequences to change...but perhaps a vision of something so "right" may be as motivating for people to tend well their environment.
Perhaps the following list may be re-organized and it may provide one basis for work to produce a computer program(s) that will show the likely changes within wildlands before each decision to change the environment is made. Evidence is in however, that people do not respond well to threats of disease (smoking, diabetes, alcoholism) and rebuild in flood plains, fire-prone areas, and even in places recently destroyed by hurricanes.
Ecological services are difficult to discuss for "services" sounds positive and often there are negatives effects ... which are human value judgements and not "natural" or "ecological" or bio-physical. For example, animals disperse seeds but they aggregate others (into caches). They eat some, but their gnawing or passage through their digestive system allows others to germinate. Thus they increase some, decrease others. They change the life form of some plants by their grazing, good in some situations for some forms of life, harmful for others. They propagate and influence mycorrhizae, beneficial to some plants (which may be competitors to others of great value). Some insects sting humans but also pollinate their foods.
"Processes" from general systems theory, is a better word to use than "services." (Even "influences.")
There are commodities provided such as building material, fuel, and other forest products. They once contributed to coal and fossil energy buildups and some are believed to continue to do so. Whether this can be called "services" needs to be discussed. Services may be:
While products are well known and easy to list, the services of Rural System have often been provided by state and federal agencies. Many of these services have been delayed, insufficient, and inadequate. Some have lead to high productivity in falling markets and thus financial ruin. Many services formerly performed have been removed in changing administrations, regulations, laws, and policies. Governmental startup has matured into private activity in the best forms of American entrepreneurship and capitalism.
Rural System exists to operate, to perform services, especially those that benefit from research results and that can utilize the power of the computer, the Internet, and other high technology. We can demonstrate the advantages of simulation and optimization, moving us all to the positive side of the economic "margin."
We know about ecological services as discussed above and how to protect them, restore those lost, and safely exploit them.
The services we offer are as follows (we suggest using "Find" under the Edit tab at the edge of the screen to search for key words):
If you cannot find the service(s) needed, please be sure to email us. We are growing and we have many contacts and colleagues who might meet your needs.
See 43 page text on services formerly reported at: http://www.frc.state.mn.us/Landscape/econ_lit_search_1003.pdf
See the 69 key ecological "functions" such as pollination and cavity creating in Berwick, S., B.G. Marcot, P. Paquet, and P. Whitney. 2001. Ecosystem-based selection of wildlife species for comparing future landscape alternatives in Columbia River Basin, p.60-63 in R. Filed, R.J. Warren, H. Okarma, P.P. Sievert (editors) Wildlife, land, and people: priorities for the 21st century, The Wildlife Society, Bethesda, MD.
See Daily, Gretchen C. 1997. Nature services, Island Press
The following is an abstract of a paper by Martin Doyle, Duke University 2013
Title: How ecosystem service markets work, and why they don’t
If you restore a wetland, can you sell the carbon sequestered there to a buyer in Germany, while you sell the wetland habitat created to a nearby housing developer, and the improved water quality to a municipal treatment plant downstream in the next state? Environmental regulators increasingly confront this vexing scenario at every level of market-based environmental policy, from local water quality initiatives to global carbon markets.
Markets in environmental credits are now common. Local, national and global jurisdictions have created many market-like arrangements in which someone who causes environmental damage can mitigate their impacts through the purchase of credits produced by people or firms engaged in resource conservation. Although these credits can be measured in units of area, it is increasingly common to see them defined in units of ecosystem services – the benefits that humans derive from the environment. The move from area-based credits toward function- or service-based credits raises the possibility of credit stacking – the sale of multiple credit types from a single site. Credit stacking can incentivize conservation activity by multiplying possible revenue streams from a credit site. But it also poses difficulties in even tracking and accounting for the many services involved, and challenges ecosystem ecologists and economists to more precisely define and understand what ecosystem service markets are really designed to conserve.
See note from Costanza: 5-2014
our new paper titled "Changes in the global value of ecosystem services" in Global Environmental Change.
This paper builds on our 1997 paper published in Nature on the global value of ecosystem services, and estimates the changes since then. It updates the unit value estimates based on work done by the TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) study and combines them with new global land use estimates to arrive at the first estimates of the changes in global ecosystem services value between 1997 and 2011 in monetary units. We estimate (with appropriate caveats) that the loss of ecosystem services from 1997 to 2011 is on the order of $20 Trillion/yr.
The paper also addresses some of the misconceptions and critiques arising from the 1997 paper and compares the results with more elaborate global systems modeling approaches.
You can view and download the paper at:
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Perhaps you will share ideas with Rural System staff about some of the topics above.
Revisions: July 1, 2004, December 23, 2009, 1-11-2016