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Posted Thu Jul 8 2010: from Word Resources Institute, via Mongabay:
Goodbye to the Gulf: oil disaster hits region's 'primary production'
According to a new analysis by the World Resources Institute (WRI), the many ecosystem services provided by the Gulf of Mexico will be severely impacted by BP's giant oil spill. 'Ecosystem services' are the name given by scientists and experts to free benefits provided by intact ecosystems, for example pollination or clean water. In the Gulf of Mexico, such environmental benefits maintain marine food production, storm buffers, tourism, and carbon sequestration, but one of the most important of marine ecosystem services is known as 'primary production'. The backbone of the marine food chain, primary production refers to the process whereby some marine organisms turn carbon dioxide into organic compounds--in this case corals, sea grass, algae, and the most important of all phytoplankton.... Although considered 'free' by most economists, ecosystem services are worth far more than most people realize. According to Earth Economics one acre of Mississippi Delta produces approximately $13,000 in ecosystem services annually. But oil pollution will greatly diminish such long depended on and cryptic returns.... The WRI argues that from now on ecosystem services must be taken into account when officials grant offshore drilling licenses. They are currently ignored by public officials handling oil drilling.
[Read more stories about: ecosystem interrelationships, economic myopia, corporate malfeasance]

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