In today’s discussion on “The Decline of the Bluefin Tuna,” we reached a hypothetical question trying to figure out the cost of the extinction of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna. As I suggested in class, the discussion got bogged down because people were approaching the problem of Tuna from different scales of value – the economic cost of bluefin tuna disappearing, vs. the cost in biodiversity, vs. the socio-cultural value of the continued consumption of bluefin tuna in Japan (for example).
Here is the reading that I suggested, as one possible way to bring together different scales of value – to bring together these different sources of value together in making decisions about conservation. This article is one of those “oldies but goodies” work – Weitzman’s evolutionary library model.
I’m not suggesting that Weitzman’s approach is the only way to synthesize different value systems together to make decisions about conservation; in fact, it is clearly an approach grounded in neoliberal economics. But at least he does recognize that there are different ways to assign worth, as well as real limits to conservation efforts.