|Composites Design and Manufacture (Plymouth University teaching support materials)
The value of Eco-System Services
In 1968, Paul and Anne Ehrlich warned of major societal upheavals and mass starvation unless there was immediate action to limit human populayion. Meadows et al then published a report for the Club of Rome's project on the predicament of mankind, The Limits to Growth . While the respective crises have been delayed, not avoided, the authors of the original predictions have updated their positions [3, 4].
Costanza et al  estimated the value of the non-marketed contribution of the world’s ecosystem services to human welfare at US$16-54 trillion per year (with a mean of US$33 trillion) in $1994. This figure was significantly larger than the corresponding global GNP at $18 trillion per year and was considered to be an underestimate. Toman  suggested that "economic assessment of ecosystem benefits and opportunity costs [are] one important element of the information set that must go into social decision making, even though a simple cost-benefit test cannot determine what actions are appropriate". He states that "a default value of zero for a difficult-to-measure ecological value, as is used (explicitly or implicitly) in a number of cost-benefit analyses, is no more defensible scientifically than a default value of infinity" which only reinforces the need to appreciate the context of the analysis. He then concludes that the fundamental problem with the analysis in  is "that there is little that can be usefully done with a serious underestimate of infinity"!
Imhoff and Bounoua  report that the human species constitutes around 0.5% of the total biomass of organisms that require organic compounds to get carbon for growth and development, yet globally they consume 20% of the net primary production from the land, i.e. the supply of food energy. Kern  has summarised the debate about food, feed, fibre, fuel and industrial products.