Gunther VI has been called the world’s richest pet. Actually his grandfather, Gunther III, inherited $80 million when the German countess Karlotta Leibenstein died and left her entire estate to her beloved pooch. From what I could discover, Gunther appears to have inherited his money from Gunther IV. Recently he sold a Miami estate that had belonged to Madonna for $29 million. (Although he lives in Italy, during visits to the U.S. in private jets, he reputedly enjoyed the sun and pool at his Miami property.)
Gunther ;looks like a rather normal dog. But the money changed his value.
So too does pricing parts of the environment.
Pricing the Environment
The UK’s Ecosystem Services Valuation Database (ESVD) has been giving monetary values to ecosystem services. As with Gunther, they believe that a price elevates the environment’s value. Their focus, as they explained, tilts toward the UK’s wetlands and coastal systems. In a methodology section describing their valuation approach, they cite variables that range from damage cost to the value of marketable goods the system supports. For a total so far of 803, the systems they looked at included coral reefs, woodland and shrub land, desert and tundra.
Although they have completed more than 4,000 value estimates, there is still lots to be done:
You can see the ecosystems that received a valuation from them:
I’ve only copied a small section of a much larger table showing mean standardized dollar values per hectare for each item in the rows, below:
Our Bottom Line: Disaster Pricing
The market’s supply and demand depend on a price system. Sending a message, prices tell us what is expensive and what is cheap. They convey value. As consumers and businesspeople, we identify what we can afford. And now faced with a growing number of natural disasters, we can better determine the value of the devastation.
Our bottom line is that dollars create incentives,. As a result, making value more evident, like Gunther, they can transform how we see a pet, a park, a penguin, or a pelican. We could add here that Gunther got valuwe even if he did not exist. I just became aware (as of 1.4.23) that the whole story could be false.
My sources and more: As an animal for whom price bestowed value, Gunther was my starting point, here and here. Eleven years ago, econlife looked at the BP oil spill and last year, we, did an update. Finally though, the ESVD paper displays where policy could go. (Please note that several of today’s sentences were from past econlife posts.)
Our featured image of Gunther is from Style.