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Economists assign monetary values to region’s ‘natural’ gifts

Robert McClure, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Study considers how to make cents of the Sound

Lower doctor bills. Drinking water. Protection from floods. Food.

Those are just a few items on a newly compiled list of goods and services provided to people living around Puget Sound by the “natural capital” of the region’s forests, mountains and waterways, says a report being released Friday by a team of economists.

After examining how wetlands, the Sound and other natural features benefit people living here, the economists behind the report pegged the value of those goods and services at between $7.4 billion and $61.7 billion a year. And they admit upfront that’s a big underestimate — it’s just the best they could do for now.

If the ecosystems that surround the region’s cities had a price tag, what would it be? At least $243 billion — and perhaps as much as $2.1 trillion, the economic team says. Again, that’s a “rough cut, first step” at putting a value on the nature that surrounds us.

Why do this?

“It gets us beyond the confrontational debate. It’s not the environment versus the economy,” said co-author Robert Costanza, director of the Gund Institute of Environmental Economics at the University of Vermont.
(25 July 2008)

About 2,000 industries ready to shift Saturday, Sunday days-off

Jakarta Post
About 2,000 of the country’s 6,800 industries have declared their readiness to shift their weekend days off (Saturday and Sunday) to other days, says a spokesman of state electricity company PLN.

“About 2,000 industries are ready to shift their days off from Saturday and Sunday to weekdays. Of the total, about 50 percent are ready to start the program at the end of this month,” PLN’s director for Java-Bali distribution, Murtaqi Syamsuddin, said here on Tuesday.

He said his office had made an inventory of 6,000 industries out of the existing 6,800 companies.

“We actually hope that all industries will make the shift before August 2008,” Syamsuddin said…
(29 July 2008)
Contributor comment: As the “third” and “developing world” are coming face to face with peak oil in advance of more developed countries, stories like this from Indonesia are becoming more common. The Indonesian government and state electricity company are demanding industries spread out their electricity demand by moving away from traditional work-weeks.

Stiff sea breeze blows away school’s electricity bill

Simon de Bruxelles, The Times
One of Britain’s most windswept schools has taken advantage of its position on an exposed Cornish headland to reduce its electricity bills by up to 90 per cent.

Gorran School, near St Austell, has attracted £55,000 in grants to install a 50ft (15m) wind turbine in a corner of its playing field. When the wind blows the turbine produces 3.5kW of power, enough to meet nearly all the 100-pupil primary school’s energy needs and to help to heat its outdoor swimming pool to a bath-like temperature.

When the school is closed at night, at weekends and during holidays, or if the turbine produces more power than it needs, the surplus electricity is sold to the national grid for 10p per unit. Thirty other schools in Cornwall are hoping to install their own turbines…
(25 July 2008)