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Relative Value of Nature and Poetry (in Science)

Walter Westman wonders about worth:

How Much Are Nature’s Services Worth?” Walter E. Westman, Science, vol. 197, no. 4307 (Sep. 2, 1977), pp. 960-964. The author, at UCLA, begins with a snippet of poetry from Wordsworth, then gets on with it:

‘To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts  that  do  often lie  too  deep  for  tears.’ —WILLIAM  WORDSWORTH

“Attempts to quantify nature’s services have heuristic value in providing perspective on the distance from both present estimates and a full accounting. Yet it is both sobering and important to recognize that, even in the long run, quantitative estimates of the worth of nature to man are likely to remain asymptotic to the value expressed by the poet’s phrase….”

(Thanks to investigator Michael Strack for bringing this to our attention.)

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