The first half of The Human Island tried to illustrate what should be easily recognisable facts about life. We are not free from nature and to aspire to as much is simply to willingly turn off one’s own life support system; it’s blatant suicide. To achieve greater production, to mitigate and adapt to the worst of a changing climate, to create jobs, to improve mental as well as physical health, to secure energy, fresh water and food is entirely to protect, rehabilitate and to advance the many wonderful ecological services available (albeit slowly disappearing from the biosphere).
The hope and result of the industrial era has been quite the opposite of this. We now have too much available information to plead continual ignorance and I feel confident in concluding that the resistance typically observed to these issues (such as climate change denial and the condoning of species extinction) is the result of misinformation and personal delusion which is the result of very little if not completely devoid of real and relevant data.
Another way to look at it is to compare human and ecological relationships to the workings of a company. At first, most of the work is manual; high employment and moderately expensive, high quality goods. To be competitive, the profits are kept in check. The result is a good cycling of money among the community. It’s a system that inherently demands a strong gravitation towards equality and modest competition.
However, as new technology becomes available, people are replaced with machinery. Overheads, such as wages, are lowered, yet the produce remains at the same price or only has a minor price reduction. Profits are thus increased. The cash flow cycle is altered and disparity is increased. With the newly unemployed unable to afford quality goods; inferior goods (especially poorer quality food) is the only option.
Even newer technology means that transport costs are relatively cheap, so the whole local production centre is closed and operations are moved offshore to where the required labour can be achieved by those willing to work at much lower rates. Again, produce remains the same price, or is only slightly reduced. Profits are increased again. Now the local cash flow is so greatly changed that only those who have shares in the company obtain income and via offshore wages, wealth is trickled out slowly from the local market all of which exacerbates disparity even further.
I could go on to discuss why I believe labour-saving devices are in many ways, inhumane, but that is a subject for another project.
In short, the idea is that by removing services provided by species, you may be able to make a quick dollar, but eventually, by removing the contributors to the larger cycle you fundamentally reduce local productivity which will eventually impact all members of the community – even those who originally profit from the quick dollar.
As previously discusses; removing the tropical rainforest removes the nutrient supply; removing vegetation around agricultural land removes many pollinators, soil regenerators, storm surge protection and pest controllers. By removing services, you will lead to lowered productivity. It’s a simply enough concept and one we had previously applied from much of our agricultural past, until the modern industrial era (not that this is a call for deindustrialisation, obviously, but I’ll get to that later).
I mentioned in chapter 7 a quote from The TEEB foundation that Priess et al. (2007) found that pollinators in Sulawesi provided 46 Euros per hectare worth of ecological services to agriculture . These pollinators of course rely on the neighbouring forest, which are slowly being cleared. Ultimately the loss of forest area is expected to reduce revenues from local agriculture (coffee) over the next 20 years by as much as 14%, solely from the reducing the pollination service . In the same report, insect pollination alone is estimated to provide €153 billion of global economic value or nearly 10% of the agricultural output in 2005 .
Some other points from the same report  that are worth mention are:
• Current fishery practices are estimated to underperform by as much as US$50 billion per year, when compared to more sustainable fishing scenarios.
• As much as 30 million people are entirely reliant on coral reef ecosystems for primary food production (think about this and do some research on coral bleaching over 2010).
• Looking at climate change prevention alone, it is estimated that halving deforestation by 2030 could save US$3.7 trillion in net present value terms (if we include the previously discussed living space for pollinators, soil regenerators, pest controllers, as well as storm surge protection, water capture and purification and sustainable harvest, the number would be much higher).
This is not, as is often demonised, the talk of some radical “Green” liberal movement, but as much a discussion about the economy and wealth as you would hear from any iconic conservative group or individual with one important difference; being totally aware of all the employees of the system. In chapter 8, I quoted an Australian journalist, Andrew Bolt, referring to species protection as a “racket”.
However, when you look at much that is discussed in The Human Island and the underlying referenced work, you find that the real threat to industry, to job, food, fresh water security and the whole host of important services previously discussed is the racket of endless growth; this neoliberal development over the past few decades that requires not only growth of production, but acceleration  – two principles that just don’t work with finite resources and services that have an inbuilt speed limit (and are often slowed down as we change the functions of landscapes).
When you equate a financial value to ecological services, the picture is suddenly translated into something more intelligible to a wider audience and the threats to prosperity should be exposed. By reducing ecology, there may be some sort term gains, but just like farming on tropical lands, this too will eventually come up short and will require greater effort to maintain.
Over the coming chapters, I had originally planned to focus on simply trying to live as an island species. However I now think that it would be more useful to breakdown each chapter, first to explore this idea and then to provide examples of the opposite; re-promoting an ecologically enriched prosperity.
 TEEB Foundation 2010. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity. Edited by Pushpam Kumar. Earthscan, London.
 Gleeson, B. 2010. Lifeboat Cities. UNSW Press.