Econopoly: On Ecosystems and Economics

Econopoly: Phase One of Ecology Games 2012

The original game of Monopoly was invented by a Quaker woman called Elizabeth Magie in 1903 (and originally called The Landlord’s Game). Elizabeth Magie’s game intended to demonstrate the injustices of Henry George’s Single Tax on land but instead Parker Brothers bought the rights and made a game about buying property, making monopolies and beating other players by charging them rent.

Econopoly is about the commodification of the natural world. Presently, ecological ‘services’ are being given financial value in a desperate effort to convince industrialists to acknowledge the importance of Nature. The financialisation of ‘ecosystem services’ is based on the belief this will help protect biodiversity. But does assigning ecosystems an economic value really work?

Consider the recent The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) report, which estimates a total economic value of insect pollination worldwide at €153 billion (Gallai et al. 2009 in TEEB, 2010: p.8). It’s a high number, but does this number actually reflect the value of pollinating insects? Considering that we are dependent on functioning ecological systems, surely these ‘ecosystem services’ and the pollinating insects which are a vital part of these ecosystems are in fact priceless. Continue reading

Decoding Visual Media: Representations of Nature in Popular Culture

I am interested in how representations of Nature in the media and popular culture effect our attitudes towards Nature. I would like to study this phenomenon and could use some help from you, yes you reader. I need more examples. I am going to try and crowd source visual samples. Please help me out by visiting this new blog. Read the brief descriptions of the main themes under investigation. Think about it a bit and if you come up with some samples that reflect the themes, please send them in or let me know. I hope to make it worth your while in the end by writing something useful. Many thanks.

Above: Oil and Water – photoshot by Vogue summer 2010 on the theme of the Gulp Oil spill.