WHAT HAS NATURE EVER DONE FOR US? HOW MONEY REALLY DOES GROW ON TREES, by Tony Juniper

Reviewed by Gunnar Rundgren, GrolinkAB

Tony Juniper shares impactful stories on the “ecosystem services” nature provides us and our economies which we often take for granted.

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What Has Nature Ever Done for Us? How Money Really Does Grow on Trees, by Tony Juniper, Profile Books, 2013, 336 pp.

Vultures can clean up a cow carcass in minutes, leaving only bones behind. In India, considering the resistance to eating cattle, most cows have historically been eaten by vultures. At a certain point, however, the Indian vulture population collapsed from some 40 million to merely a fraction of that. The use of a new anti-inflammatory drug on the cattle proved to be lethal for vultures. As a result, “There was an explosion in the population of wild dogs,” says environmentalist Tony Juniper, “More dogs led to more dog bites and that caused more rabies infections among people.” The disease killed thousands and cost the Indian government an estimated $30 billion.

The story of the Indian vultures is one of the most striking from What Has Nature Ever Done for us?:  How Money Really Does Grow on Trees by Tony Juniper. Through numerous stories Juniper reveals how nature is not only the provider of all our food and oxygen but also the world’s largest water utility, and it provides us with many more ecosystem services such as pest and disease control and soil reproduction.

I expected that Juniper, with his combined experience with Friends of the Earth, business and politics, would have some fresh insights into the question, “how do we go forward?” Unfortunately, I am disappointed by his common suggestions that have been around for decades: developing better indicators, selling ecosystem services and valuing nature. There is nothing wrong with these suggestions, but they fall short of expectations and are in no way innovative.

 


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