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What is nature worth? The answer to this question—which traditionally has been framed in environmental terms—is revolutionizing the way we do business.
In Nature’s Fortune, Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy and former investment banker, and science writer Jonathan Adams argue that nature is not only the foundation of human well-being, but also the smartest commercial investment any business or government can make. The forests, floodplains, and oyster reefs often seen simply as raw materials or as obstacles to be cleared in the name of progress are, in fact as important to our future prosperity as technology or law or business innovation.
Who invests in nature, and why? What rates of return can it produce? When is protecting nature a good investment? With stories from the South Pacific to the California coast, from the Andes to the Gulf of Mexico and even to New York City, Nature’s Fortune shows how viewing nature as green infrastructure allows for breakthroughs not only in conservation—protecting water supplies; enhancing the health of fisheries; making cities more sustainable, livable, and safe; and dealing with unavoidable climate change—but in economic progress, as well. Organizations obviously depend on the environment for key resources—water, trees, and land. But they can also reap substantial commercial benefits in the form of risk mitigation, cost reduction, new investment opportunities, and the protection of assets. Once leaders learn how to account for nature in financial terms, they can incorporate that value into the organization’s decisions and activities, just as habitually as they consider cost, revenue, and ROI.
A must-read for business leaders, CEOs, investors, and environmentalists alike, Nature’s Fortune offers an essential guide to the world’s economic—and environmental—well-being.
A Note to Readers
Chapter 1. Maybe It's Not Chinatown After All
Chapter 2. Not a Drop to Drink
Chapter 3. Let Floodplains Be Floodplains
Chapter 4. The New Fishing
Chapter 5. Feeding the World—and Saving It
Chapter 6. The Million-Dollar Mile
Chapter 7. Investing in the Future in the Face of Climate Change
Chapter 8. Town and Country
Chapter 9. The Business Case for Nature
Registration for the conference is free for all members of the Yale community and for all residents of the Greater New Haven area, $15 for all students coming from outside of New Haven, and $30 for all other attendees. If you would like to attend the conference but are not be able to pay the registration fee, please e-mail the student organizers of the conference at YaleEnvLawConference@yale.edu.
Is there an economic value to nature's services? Should this value be incentive enough for us to fund conservation? Can lessons from the corporate world come to the rescue? In an age of increasing environmental degradation and risk, The Nature Conservancy CEO Mark Tercek believes environmentalists need to incorporate business as a partner in making the world sustainable—and that corporations need a healthy environment to stay in business.
Tercek and co-author Jonathan Adams outline examples of this mutually beneficial relationship in Nature’s Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature, now available in paperback. Tercek and Adams share the stories behind partnerships involving a range of types of businesses, resources, and tactics, offering an inspirational look at the potential for both environmental and commercial benefit.
Island Press' Associate Director of Marketing.
By Mark Tercek, Giulio Boccaletti & Brian Stranko
Last week, government scientists issued their strongest forecast yet for what some are calling a “Godzilla” El Niño. It’s looking more and more likely that the periodic warming of the Pacific Ocean—which can trigger heavy rainfall over the western U.S.-– will bring some relief to drought-weary Californians.
But will it be enough?
In short, no. The last five years are the driest on the state’s record book, and snowpack in the Sierra Nevada—which provides water to six in 10 Californians—hit an all-time low. Farmers and cities are tapping aquifers to maintain supply, but even those are drying up. Rivers and streams that support fish and other wildlife have been reduced to a trickle, and wetlands that provide homes to migrating birds are shrinking.
Even a massive El Niño is unlikely to reverse a drought of these proportions. State water officials estimate it would take 150% of average annual precipitation totals to offset the state’s massive water deficit. That’s more than any El Niño winter on record.
While Californians hope for rain, it remains crucial for the state to improve its long-term water management. Here are some steps to take right now.
1.) Measure it, so we can manage it: Currently, there’s no way to accurately measure total water needs, water use and available supply in California. Real-time data on water needs and availability would enable the state to improve the precision of water flows to people and nature. The more precise we can be, the better we can allocate water and buffer the impact of future droughts.
Measuring the water depth of irrigation ditches allows us to better manage water for cropland use. © Erika Nortemann
2.) Be smart about surpluses: Even as water efficiency increases, any surpluses should be treated with care. This is especially important in agriculture. Farmers are becoming better water managers, but their water savings shouldn’t necessarily be applied to growing additional crops. Water efficiency is a great first step, but it’s important to consider the most productive use of water across all needs.
Water efficiency and smart use of water surpluses are important for all California stakeholders, especially farmers. © Chris Helzer
Continue reading the full post here.
Mark Tercek is president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy.
This holiday season, give the gift of an Island Press book. With a catalog of more than 1,000 books, we guarantee there's something for everyone on your shopping list. Check out our list of staff selections, and share your own ideas in the comments below.
For the OUTDOORSPERSON in your life:
Water is for Fighting Over...and Other Myths about Water in the West by John Fleck
Anyone who has ever rafted down the Colorado, spent a starlit night on its banks, or even drank from a faucet in the western US needs Water is for Fighting Over. Longtime journalist John Fleck will give the outdoors lover in your life a new appreciation for this amazing river and the people who work to conserve it. This book is a gift of hope for the New Year.
Satellites in the High Country: Searching for the Wild in the Age of Man by Jason Mark
Do you constantly find your friend waxing poetic about their camping tales and their intimate connection to the peaceful, yet mysterious powers of nature? Sounds like they will relate to Jason Mark’s tales of his expeditions across a multitude of American landscapes, as told in Satellites in the High Country. More than a collection of stories, this narrative demonstrates the power of nature’s wildness and explores what the concept of wild has come to mean in this Human Age.
What Should a Clever Moose Eat?: Natural History, Ecology, and the North Woods by John Pastor
Is the outdoorsperson in your life all dressed up in boots, parka, and backpack with nowhere to go? Looking for meaning in another titanium French press coffeemaker for the camp stove? What Should a Clever Moose Eat leaves the technogadgets behind and reminds us that all we really need to bring to the woods when we venture out is a curious mind and the ability to ask a good question about the natural world around us. Such as, why do leaves die? What do pine cones have to do with the shape of a bird’s beak? And, how are blowflies important to skunk cabbage? A few quality hours among its pages will equip your outdoor enthusiast to venture forth and view nature with new appreciation, whether in the North Woods with ecologist John Pastor or a natural ecosystem closer to home.
Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change by Yoram Bauman
This holiday season, give your favorite climate-denier a passive aggressive “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” with The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change featuring self –described Stand-up Economist Yoram Bauman and award-winning illustrator Grady Klein. Give the gift of fun, entertaining basic understanding of what is, undeniably and not up for subjective debate, scientific fact!
For the HEALTH NUT in your life:
Unnatural Selection: How We Are Changing Life, Gene by Gene by Emily Monosson
Give the health nut in your life the gift of understanding with Unnatural Selection. Your friends and family will discover how chemicals are changing life on earth and how we can protect it. Plus, they’ll read fascinating stories about the search for a universal vaccine, the attack of relentless bedbugs, and a miracle cancer drug that saved a young father’s life.
For the ADVOCATE in your life:
Prospects for Resilience: Insights from New York City's Jamaica Bay by Sanderson, et. al
Need an antidote to the doom and gloom? Stressed-out environmental advocates will appreciate Prospects for Resilience: Insights from New York City's Jamaica Bay. It’s a deep dive into one of the most important questions of our time: how can we create cities where people and nature thrive together? Prospects for Resilience showcases successful efforts to restore New York’s much abused Jamaica Bay, but its lessons apply to any communities seeking to become more resilient in a turbulent world.
Ecological Economics by Josh Farley and Herman Daly
Blow the mind of the advocate in your life with a copy of Ecological Economics by the godfather of ecological economics, Herman Daly, and Josh Farley. In plain, and sometimes humorous English, they’ll come to understand how our current economic system does not play by the same laws that govern nearly every other system known to humankind—that is, the laws of thermodynamics. Given recent financial and political events, there’s a message of hope within the book as it lays out specific policy and social change frameworks.
For the CRAZY CAT PERSON in your life:
An Indomitable Beast: The Remarkable Journey of the Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz
The cat lovers in your life will lose themselves in An Indomitable Beast, an illuminating story about the journey of the jaguar. This is the perfect book for any of your feline loving friends, whether they want to pursue adventure with the big cats of the wild, or stay home with a book and cup of tea.
For the GARDENER in your life:
Wild by Design: Strategies for Creating Life-Enhancing Landscapes by Margie Ruddick
Give your favorite gardener an antidote to the winter blues. The lush photographs of Wild by Design, and inspirational advice on cultivating landscapes in tune with nature, transport readers to spectacular parks, gardens, and far-flung forests. This book is guaranteed to be well-thumbed and underlined by the time spring planting season arrives!
For the STUBBORN RELATIVE in your life:
Common Ground on Hostile Turf: Stories from an Environmental Mediator by Lucy Moore
For the person keeping the peace in your family this holiday season, the perfect gift is Common Ground on Hostile Turf, an inspiring how to guide demonstrating it is possible to bring vastly different views together. This book gives lessons learned on setting down at the table with the most diverse set of players and the journey they take to find common grounds and results. If your holiday dinner needs some mediation, look to the advice of author Lucy Moore.
Also consider: Communication Skills for Conservation Professionals by Susan Jacobson, Communicating Nature by Julia Corbett
For the HISTORY BUFF in your life:
The Past and Future City: How Historic Preservation is Reviving America's Communities by Stephanie Meeks with Kevin C. Murphy
When it comes to the the future of our cities, the secret to urban revival lies in our past. Tickle the fancy of your favorite history buff by sharing The Past and Future City, which takes readers on a journey through our country's historic spaces to explain why preservation is important for all communities. With passion and expert insight, this book shows how historic spaces explain our past and serve as the foundation of our future.
For the BUSINESS PERSON in your life:
Nature's Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature by Mark Tercek
For the aspiring CEO in your life who drools at phrases like "rates of return" and "investment," share the gift of Nature's Fortune, an essential guide to the world's economic (and environmental) well-being.
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.