Sunday, May 8, 2011

Calculating the Value of Bats

Assigning a dollar value to nature is a complex undertaking, but it's often worth the effort. "Such numbers can show how much our human economy depends on nature's indiscernible economy," says an editorial in The New York Times.

"Take bats. A study in Science magazine reveals just how important they are to American agriculture." Each night, the editorial noted, countless bats consume great quantities of insects, including many that attack farm crops. A team of scientists previously calculated how much more money cotton farmers in one region of south-central Texas would spend on pesticides if bats weren't present, The Times reported. That study concluded that bats save cotton farmers between $12 and $173 an acre annually.

"Extrapolating from those numbers," the editorial said, "they estimated that bats save American farmers somewhere between $3.7 billion and $54 billion a year, most likely about $22.9 billion." Learn more.

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