Luigi Pellizzoni

Commodifying the planet? Beyond the economy of ecosystem services

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Valuation of Environmental Effects; Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth; Ecological Economics: Ecosystem Services; Biodiversity Conservation; Bioeconomics; Industrial Ecology.

The idea of pricing nature for saving it has gained major traction with the rise of carbon trading and the economy of ecosystem services. However, this has not corresponded to significant effects on climate change, biodiversity loss and other ecological challenges. Is this because nature has not been marketized enough, or because of a fundamental flaw in its commodification? To answer, the paper elaborates on valuation, the underlying moral economy of work and the relationship between work and energy established during industrialization. The result is a fully plastic compound, at once material and abstract, natural and social, hence amenable to a single metric. Ecosystem services even question the alleged need for capital of a moveable frontier of commodification, everything resulting already a commodity. Yet, radical incompleteness of information and incommensurability of values makes their success self-defeating. Acknowledging this leads to reframing criteria of efficiency, pointing to a new grammar of goals, values and relations among people and with things.

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