Below are a selection of some of my favourite quotes on the various aspects of Ecosystem Services selected from a variety of authors. This page is a work in progress, so check back for new quotes.

“Natural capital is essential to human welfare.”

“The economies of the Earth would grind to a halt without the services of ecological life-support systems, so in one sense their total value to the economy is infinite.”

“Zero natural capital implies zero human welfare because it is not feasible to substitute, in total, purely ‘non-natural’ capital for natural capital. Manufactured and human capital require natural capital for their construction.”

“It is trivial to ask what is the value of the atmosphere to humankind, or what is the value of rocks and soil infrastructure as support systems. Their value is infinite in total.”

“The decisions we make as a society about ecosystems imply valuations (although not necessarily expressed in monetary terms.) We can choose to make these valuations explicit [and transparent] or not. We can do them with an explicit acknowledgment of the huge uncertainties involved or not; but as long as we are forced to make choices, we are going through the process of valuation.”

Costanzaet al., 1997

Quotes from TEEB:

“Applying economic thinking to the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services can help clarify two critical points: why prosperity and poverty reduction depend on maintaining the flow of benefits from ecosystems; and why successful environmental protection needs to be grounded in sound economics, including explicit recognition, efficient allocation, and fair distribution of the costs and benefits of conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.”

TEEB, 2010. Mainstreaming the Economics of Nature


Timothy E. Wirth Quotes in Forward in Robert Repetto‘s 2010 book, America’s Climate Problem:

“Simply put, our planet and its life support systems are at a tipping point. The trends are not sustainable.”

“Facing catastrophic climate change, as we do, it matters little whether greenhouse gaes emanate from Chicago or Shanghai – we all get warm together.

The reality of this kind of interdependence is entirely new in human history. Never before have the fates and responsibilities of the world’s people been as intertwined. Never before have we born such heavy responsibilities toward our children and our grandchildren.

Unhappily, we are not living up to those responsibilities. In fact, we are failing badly as stewards of the natural systems that make human life and planetary productivity possible….

It is dismaying, then, that my generation has been so utterly ineffective, so seemingly indifferent in the face of the established facts and the clear implications for the next generations. The world’s future is being mortgaged away becuase we refuse to acknowledge how much our long term economic and national security is linked to the health of the planet’s life support systems.”

“Stated in the jargon of the business world, the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. Virtually all economic activity is dependent in some way on the environment and its underlying resource base – everything from food and fuel to water and fiber. These are the foundations of the vast majority of all economic activity and most jobs. When the environment is finally forced to file for bankruptcy because its resources base has been polluted, degraded and irretrievably compromised, then the economy goes down with it.”

“To stabilize the atmosphere, we have to reduce our carbon output by at least 90 percent by 2050…Instead of 20 tons, we will have to reduce our carbon emissions to about 2 tons per person.”

“The most practical and efficient policy approach to cut back carbon emissions across the entire economy is through market mechanisms, such as a cap and trade system…”

Robert Repetto, 2010. Americ’s Climate Problem, Chapter 6 excerpts:

“The absence of an adequate response to the most serious environmental problem in history is a failure deeply rooted in the broader failure of America’s political system. At the root of it all is money.”

“Naturally, politicians claim that their votes are not affected by campaign contributions or by direct lobbying by these interest groups. Interest groups supplying the money usually back them up, at least in public, claiming that their activities are intened merely to provide useful information, to protect the public interest or the consumer or jobs or ‘fairness’ in legislation. Is this at all credible? Is there no connection between the sources of funds in a politician’s war chest and the positions he or she takes on legislation? Would corporate executives trained and selected to maximize profitability spend hundreds of millions of dollars in political contributions with no return?…No, of course not.”

“On climate alone, there were 2780 registered lobbyists by the end of 209, about fie for every member of Congress. Of these, six per cent represented environmental groups, another six per cent represented alternative energy interests and almost all the rest represented industrial interests (Lavelle and Pell, 2009).”

“Everybody benefits [from rent-seeking behaviour in Washington], except ordinary citizens, workers and taxpayers whose interests are subordinated to those of the big spenders. Ironically, the sources of funds that turn this wheel are those very same, workers, consumers and taxpayers, who have almost no say about the use of corporate revenues for lobbying purposes (Repetto, 2007).”

“Strong policies will not emerge unless the public demands them urgently enough to overcome the forces of resistance.”

“Experts in political messaging and issue framing advise against momentum-building campaigns about the dangers of climate change, which their polls find fo not resonate with the public. Instead, they advise messages framed around energy independence, clean energy and the jobs to be had in the new energy economy. This advice is almost surely wrong.

“An equitable and efficient solution to the climate problem would keep costs down and distribute them proportionately to all energy users.”

“The key to the solution is coal…”

“There is a way forward to overcome the political obstacles to an effective climate stabilization policy, but it runs uphill. It involves the recurring battle between the diffuse public interest and the organized interests. Few readers of this book will be deeply involved in the regulatory issues described above, but they should nonetheless wonder whose interests are being represented by the thousands of lobbyists working on climate and energy issues in the nation’s capital and what return is expected fro the hundreds of millions of dollars of political spending by energy industries. They should be concerned to know whether their elected representatives are actually representing their interests and those of their children and grandchildren or the interests of major campaign contributors. They should question why large corporations that don’t hesitate a minute before raising their own prices or laying off their own workers are funding political campaigns against climate legislation in the name of job protection or price stability. The way to resolve the climate problem goes uphill, but it will go faster the more people get behind the solutions an push.”


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