October 20, 2005

More on ecosystem disservices

As politicians know very well, the words we choose to call things matter a lot. Some months ago the Spanish Minister of Housing (believe me, we have such a thing over here) announced that she was considering financing certain "soluciones habitacionales" for young people. "Soluciones habitacionales" doesn't make any sense in Spanish, so I will not try to translate it into English. The point is that she was too afraid of talking openly about 30 square-meter (323 square feet) homes.

Other times we avoid thinking about a concept by not having a word for it. Nasty things without a name live a very discreet life, and we are comfortable with that.

Andrew Balmford and William Bond review the main findings and implications of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in the prestigious academic journal Ecology Letters (Trends in the state of nature and their implications for human well-being, free content). They make the following statement:
[T]he timely quantification of ecosystem services (or of disservices associated with ecosystem disruption) has helped trigger promising conservation interventions.

Their choice of words leaves a couple of things without a name of their own -- the negative effects of natural ecosystems on human well-being, and the positive effects of "disrupted" ecosystems.

1 comment:

  1. "Their choice of words leaves a couple of things without a name of their own -- the negative effects of natural ecosystems on human well-being, and the positive effects of "disrupted" ecosystems".

    Your wise words express how complicated the real world is. Timber harvesting, when done well, can be a tremendous enhancement to a forest ecosystem. Mosquitoes carrying malaria comes to mind when I think of natural ecosystems that have a negative effect on human beings.

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