Ep. 5: A BEE’S INVOICE; THE HIDDEN VALUE IN NATURE | Adrian Grenier

Ep. 5: A BEE’S INVOICE; THE HIDDEN VALUE IN NATURE | Adrian Grenier


♪ When you look out at the world, on to nature, and its
indescribable wonder
and beauty, do you see money? Maybe you should. Look at those fish. Wait… look again. How ’bout that rain cloud
over there?
[thunder rumbles] Sure, it has value
to the human experience, say, the romance of getting caught
in a storm on your way
home from school, or… the smell of rain
on a hot summer day. But I’m talking about economic
value: dollars and cents. Measurable monetary value
in economic terms. They say money doesn’t
grow on trees, but… What if that’s
not entirely correct? Maybe in some cases, nature
isn’t just simply beautiful, but also has real tangible
value: productive value. In other words, nature often
functions as actual capital, just as a machine would
in a factory. Take bees, for example. Like the blue collar working
force, toiling tirelessly, selflessly and faithfully
to pollinate all
of our agriculture. Yet, they’ve never once
submitted an invoice. That worker bee puts in
a full day’s worth of work and us as humans,
well we do account for it if it shows up
in a jar of honey in your local Whole Foods.
But that’s about it. Well, natural capital
is a set of natural resources that are not only nice
to look at and have around, but they’re also productive in
that they help us make things
that we use every day. Bees are actually
responsible for 8% of the total
agricultural output, or about $190 billion. They’ve done all that work
for free. Without them, our food systems
would collapse. Yet we don’t recognize them as
being an important part
of our economy. There’s an economic principle
called “common pool resources,” which are resources that anyone
can tap into or exploit, like… fishing in the oceans. It used to be the case that
oceans were so big relative to humans, relative to society, that limits simply
didn’t matter. You could always go out,
maybe a little bit further, and still haul in
the same catch. That’s no longer possible. By now, we have
the technology to exploit oceans to an extent that has
never been possible before. And all of a sudden we get a
problem, typically referred to as “the tragedy of the commons,” where these common pool
resources get over-used. For example, you can think
about Boston Common, founded in 1634 as a place
for cows to graze. For awhile, this worked well.
People would bring their cows. It was free
and open to everyone. But as there
got to be more cows, overgrazing became a problem. If there were a bank account,
let’s say, where everyone had an ATM card, eventually and probably
sooner than later, everyone would take advantage. Take out all the money, and the
account would be overdrawn. [loud buzz] We don’t price nature. We don’t account for the hidden
economic value of nature. Like the northeastern
trade winds delivering 20 billion tons
of water vapor from the Amazon to South America. That’s $240 billion
of economic value. But how do we put a price tag
on the rain forest itself… all the rich life within? It’s hard to put a value
on these details, but we have to start in order
to measure the true cost of damages that businesses
put onto society. And make sure they
pay the bill, not us. Every ton of CO2 emitted
into the atmosphere today causes about $40 dollars
worth of damages. Policy-makers and
conservationists have started introducing this concept
of carbon markets, or sometimes called
green markets. And this is one important
attempt to put a price on the use
of this natural capital. When you increase
the price of CO2, by accounting for
the true damages, the true damages that
each ton of CO2 causes, you can decrease payroll taxes,
income taxes, and you basically create
a win-win-win. It’s a win for employment.
It’s a win for the economy. It’s a win for the planet. ♪ If somebody came and dumped
a bag of garbage in your backyard,
what would you do? Would you go–
Would you say to them, “Come back here and clean it up
because my children play there and this is my property.”? They have no more right to put
that garbage in your backyard, than they have to dump it
in the ocean. And you have as much
a property right to tell them to remove it,
as you do in your backyard. The Atlantic Ocean,
the Pacific Ocean… You own it. It’s probably the biggest thing
you’re ever gonna own. And when somebody
contaminates it, they’re committing an act
of theft against you. If our natural resources
were a stock market, it’d be headed for a crash. I mean, that’s not to say
that we can’t use
our natural capital. Just that we need to limit
behaviors where the costs to society
outweigh the benefits. The mantra that we
have to choose between economic prosperity
on the one hand and environmental protection on
the other, is a false choice. In 100% of the situations,
good environmental policy is identical
to good economic policy. But beyond economics,
we are connected to, and part of our environment. So how do we truly value
nature on this level? The kiss of the sun
on our face? The smell of flowers
through an open window? The roar of an ocean wave,
crashing to the shore? Or playing with friends
out in a field? All of these gifts, and countless other
indefinable details that are the beauty inherent in this
wondrous planet we call home, are worth respecting
and deserving. Not just because
they serve our economies, but because
they serve our humanness. In places that are just below
the surface of our calculators, in the heart
of the human spirit. ♪

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26 thoughts on “Ep. 5: A BEE’S INVOICE; THE HIDDEN VALUE IN NATURE | Adrian Grenier

  1. Well made and good focus on "common pool resources" and discussion on "moral hazard" – although the term moral hazard was not used – basically, people using more of a resource because they don't pay for it.  A little more preachy than the other We the Economy shorts.

  2. overgrazing's impact on bees & thus back upon agriculture is an efficient way to discuss the economics of bees= food security.

  3. I work in my garden for exactly this concept. its awesome that they found out about this and realized how it has to be talked about. if you dont raise the video`s stakes for importance. PEOPLE DOES NOT FOLLOW.
    this is important and this is how it has to be seen. awesome production this videos you guys.

  4. Sure wish it was easier to see these in sequence. You tube does not post the next episode on the side bar. So it is a challenging time consuming search to find episode 2 after 1, 3 after 2, etc.

  5. Business cannot pay the damages it causes, because the demand for product is what causes the damage (3:30) The government can charge a tax on business but it is simply passed on to the consumer.

  6. Wow. Just excellent. Thank you for this. I'm a bit of an Econ buff and I've been trying to explain this to people for years. Really great video.

  7. What's really weird is that the basic point is so obvious yet people need to be reminded of it: 99% our basic needs stem from nature. This is a revelation?

  8. Property rights protect the environment. People who own property have a vested interest interest in protecting it. People who borrow it from the government do not.
    There is no such thing as common property, there is either private property or government property. Government regulation allows certain politically connected individuals to defile government property and yours.
    Carbon permits, like any permit fee, only benefit the people granting permission. It's additional cost for no additional benefit.

  9. I will take anything about the environment with a grain of salt if it is coming from a guy who drives a ferrari and probably flies on private jets.

  10. Fantastic video. Think people have waaaaaaaaay too long looked at a sunset, or a beautiful pond, or waterfall and thought, only- oh, that's beautiful. Nobody understands that what they're looking at is actually WORK. part of a system which fosters an ecosystem which allows them to live. People have believed in Bambi for too long.

  11. Fkin zoolander reading cue cards he doesn't understand there.  I support the message but the cast selection makes me want to buy some brazilian beef in bulk.  Can't you have some real people deliver the message so people can relate rather than using bleeding heart elitist airheads?

  12. Jesus, the idiots will believe anything. Did that girl say natural capital at 1:33 ? Yup idiots will believe anything.

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