October 08, 2005

Ecosystem disservices

I google "ecosystem services" and I get 438.000 results. "Ecosystem goods" brings 44.100 results.

I google "ecosystem disservices" and I get 17 results. "Ecosystem bads" gets 9 results. Some of these web documents mention crop trampling by elephants. Others mention ecosystems as reservoirs of pathogens, pests and nuisance species.

The expression "ecosystem service" appears 430 times in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Synthesis Report (Ecosystems and Human Well-being). The expressions "disservice" or "disservices" or "ecosystem bads" never appear. Interestingly, the expression "ecosystem disservices" appears in a document with guidelines for the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment written back in 2001.

When assessing "ecosystems and human well-being" it would be only natural to evaluate positive and negative effects of ecosystems and get a measure of the net effect. The above data suggest a bias. It seems that people interested in ecosystem effects on humans are actually only interested in publicising the positive effects. Maybe because they, like me, love nature.

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