“Their claim is patently false. Intrinsic beauty is valued — people pay admission to Zion, go on African safaris, explore caves with tour groups, snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, visit art galleries, park to witness Niagara Falls, and rent jet skies at Lake Tahoe. The rest of their argument is irrelevant until this is addressed.”
First, with The Intrinsic Value Exchange [IVE], we are seeking to price all intrinsic values. This includes beauty but it is by no means limited to this one value alone. We also seek to price the intrinsic value of a species, its genetic material, its aesthetic value, its part in a functioning ecosystem, the services it may provide (bats eating insects for instance). We also want to include the value of natural process and ecosystems. Fresh water provision, air purification, flood control, and of course things like recreational opportunities — hiking in nature, swimming in Lake Tahoe, etc. All of these values are what we hope to identify and price in IVE.
I only wish that the examples put forward in the comment were enough to do the job of protecting and valuing natural and human assets. If they did we would not need most of the organizations that are struggling to save wildlife, keep the air clean, or protect places like Lake Tahoe. (The League To Save Lake Tahoe is one of our partners by the way.) We would also not need regulation and agencies like the EPA or Fish & Wildlife. And we would not need a tax structure that has to force pricing to occur — the tax money that goes to pay for parks and reserves or regulate to try to mitigate the negative effects of a hazardous workplace, unsafe food, polluted air and water. We price regulation/enforcement that keeps these places from being utterly destroyed – even by those that love it in these inefficient ways to make up for what is not priced properly form the start.
For example, my friend Brett Howell at the Georgia Aquarium is working diligently to try to find a way to save the coral reefs of Florida. Certainly, many people visit the reefs, there are laws protecting them, and tax money is used as well. But they are being wiped out at a terrible rate and unfortunately that is true of coral reefs around the world.
The problem is two fold: First, a lack of full valuation and a pricing mechanism to allow the valuation to be included efficiently in our economy; and second, a failure to include costs of products and services that are hidden and involuntarily incurred by others BUT not included in the price. (These hidden costs are externalities in economics lingo.) For more on the problem read this.
In the first case, if African Wildlife were properly valued (and priced) we would not see rhino’s, Mountain Gorillas, elephants, leopards, (a long list could go here) of these amazing creatures critically endangered and threatened with extinction DESPITE a robust industry of safari goer’s and eco-tourists. We value them but not properly.
When we don’t put on the price tag of goods and services the real costs — when kids get asthma from breathing car exhaust fumes for example, you don’t see that on your monthly car payment or reflected in gasoline prices. No one directly pays for the costs of sitting in traffic or the cost of pavement increasing run-off and making floods devastatingly expensive.
Lastly, the comment above mentions art. I agree, art has no inherent value outside of our agreement that it does have value. Some art is amazingly priced. And I think it is exactly this mechanism — an agreement that something is valuable for being what it is — that we would like to see happen with the amazing living art of nature. If a single painting can be worth hundreds of millions what is a Blue Whale worth? What is the Blue Whale species worth?
With IVE, we want to answer that question for Blue Whales, the clarity of Lake Tahoe, the value of the Mississippi Delta, and on and on. And not only what is their intrinsic value, but also what is their service value. IF we can answer those questions we can begin to bring those values, through prices, into our economy.
Maybe one day, and I hope sooner rather than later, we could have Blue Whale barons and they wouldn’t have to kill whales to be wealthy!