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New Metrics
New Animated Video Asks:
'How Much Is (Your Mother) Earth Worth?'

Joss Tantram, partner at UK sustainability strategy firm Terrafiniti, LLP, has conceived and written a short animation on the challenges of pricing nature — comparing it to getting a good price for selling your mother. “How Much is Your Mother Earth Worth?” takes a fresh look at one of the most complex issues of our time.

“The idea of pricing the value we get from ecosystems, literally pricing the Earth, has been with us for a couple of decades,” said Tantram.

“Using a comparable metric like money as a way to put things on a level playing field makes sense, but only up to a point,” Tantram said.

Such an approach would be fine, he says, if the things we were comparing were truly comparable. However, the environment is something you can’t do without. “There is a dependency relationship; put simply, there is no money without human beings capable of inventing and using it. There are no human beings without food, air and water.”

Tantram explained these efforts were motivated by the idea that we need to value and price the contribution that our economy gets from the natural world; once that value is identified, it can be considered and balanced alongside other priorities.

“Value implies price, price implies sales, and sales imply markets — if we are not careful we will reduce everything to money and lose sight of the real value we started with,” he said. “The idea that: ‘If we can’t measure it we can’t manage it’ pervades much of our current ways of prioritising activity. However, there are many cases when it simply does not either apply or help. For instance, how do you quantify the love you feel for your children, your parents or partner? You don’t. You know the value without needing to know the quantity. Finding an exact figure is irrelevant and pointless.”

Tantram added, “In essence the trouble with pricing the priceless is that it implies fungibility (economic “swap-ability”); by putting a price on your mother, you are essentially saying that you’d be equally happy with a different one that cost the same.”

Well-versed on the subject of valuing the invaluable, Tantram wrote recently on the concept of entropic overhead.


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