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View Diary: The Fishbowl Declares the Ocean Irrelevant (75 comments)

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  •  Alternatives cost, too (1+ / 0-)
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    OK, sure, we could try other options, as you suggest. What do THEY cost? We could use pesticides to target the bug, but then what effects would the pesticides have on other species? There are no free lunches; everything has costs and benefits. In order to make a decision, you need a way to quantify those costs and benefits.

    You observe that rare situations are difficult to price. That's true; but does that mean we should flip a coin in such situations? Throw dice? Consult an astrologer? How do we make a rational decision?

    Yep, valuing a human life is philosophically difficult, but that doesn't mean that we can shirk our responsibility to address the problem. We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars keeping a brain-dead person alive, but deny simple preventative care to poor children. Is that rational?

    Moreover, we ALREADY make decisions about the value of a life, only we do so in an indirect fashion. We could make our highways safer if we spent more money on safety measures, but how much should we spend? How much is a human life worth? Nothing? Everything? How do we make a rational decision?

    Money is "frozen values"; it's a way to rationally handle problems of allocation of resources. It's all based on values. Our problem as environmentalists is that we have been so adamant about refusing to consider economics that we have established that, in effect, environmental values are worth zero -- which is what enables the trampling of the environment.

    The solution is not to eliminate economics; the solution is to apply economics in its fullest sense.

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