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Natural Capital

The Big Idea for Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Natural capital" is a wonky term for green infrastructure, but it is also a useful term because it is descriptive of the benefit that is created when we opt for green solutions, as opposed to man-made solutions, to problems such as the threat posed by storms to vulnerable coastline.

In today's lesson, Mark Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, demonstrates how the construction of an oyster reef in the Gulf of Mexico costs just as much as a man-made seawall, but also will probably create more valuable over time, whereas a seawall will only depreciate. 

This is one example of how green infrastructure beats out man-made, or gray infrastructure. So how do we account for this value?

Once values are established for what economists term “non-market resources” – things like clean water or wildlife habitat – these values can be included in policy considerations or cost-benefit analyses.


  1. 1 I Wish I Had Some Oysters: The Value of Natural Capital
    Big Think Editors Big Think TV
  2. 2 How Green is the Valley? Putting a Dollar Value on Ecosystems
    Jon Goldstein Experts' Corner
  3. 3 Bedfellows in Green: Big Business and the Environment
    Mark Tercek
  4. 4 Water Can’t Be Free
    Peter Brabeck

Natural Capital

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