Mark Tercek: Green Infrastructure Outperforms Gray

Mark Tercek: People ask me about green infrastructure.  And by green infrastructure, and we sometimes call it natural capital, that's kind of our wonky term for using nature as an asset base.  And you can contrast that with gray infrastructure, man-made infrastructure.  There are so many instances now when we can compare and contrast an investment in nature, green infrastructure, versus an investment in grey infrastructure.  One example would be oyster reefs. We learned we got stimulus money from President Obama when we had the economic crisis and it was really interesting work that we did.  We showed that for $1 million we could build one mile of oyster reef in the gulf.  It happens to be that it cost about $1 million as well to build a mile of first-rate first class seawall.

Why does this matter?  Well, in the gulf there's great concerns about exposure to storms, sea level rise, erosion.  And so there's widespread agreement that the gulf states need to do something about that.  And kind of the preponderance of thinking has been governments need to invest in seawalls and similar gray infrastructure.  We now have really good data that shows alternatively you can invest in a green infrastructure, a new oyster reef.  The oyster reef performs just as well at providing protection from storms and sea level rise.  On that basis it's a tie.  The oyster reef costs about the same amount of money, $1 million per mile.  Again, it's a tie. But after that the oyster reef wins by a mile.  For example, the seawall, we know, like all man-made infrastructure, will depreciate; it will decline in value through wear and tear.  The oyster reef, if we take care of it, will more than hold its value.  It might even appreciate in value over time.

Second, the oyster reef is not just a seawall; it's an oyster reef.  It provides habitat for oysters. Oysters clean water.  Oyster shells ultimately crumble and nourish the beach.  Oysters are obviously good for aquaculture, the fishing community.  Oyster habitat is also habitat for other fish.  It's also habitat for birds and it helps promote tourism et cetera.  So it's a very concrete example, pun intended, of green infrastructure outperforming gray.

Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Dillon Fitton


An oyster reef costs about the same amount of money - $1 million per mile - as a sea wall. So as an infrastructure investment, it's a tie. But when you consider other factors the oyster reef wins by a mile.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

26 ultra-rich people own as much as the world's 3.8 billion poorest

The Oxfam report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency."

Getty Images and Wikimedia Commons
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new report by Oxfam argues that wealth inequality is causing poverty and misery around the world.
  • In the last year, the world's billionaires saw their wealth increase by 12%, while the poorest 3.8 billion people on the planet lost 11% of their wealth.
  • The report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency." We explain what Steven Pinker's got to do with it.
Keep reading Show less

People who constantly complain are harmful to your health

Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.

Photo credit: Getty Images / Stringer

Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.

Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.

Keep reading Show less
  • Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
  • Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
  • But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
Keep reading Show less