and Augmentation of
|1.||Augmenting nature’s productivity as technological substitution|
|2.||Substitution possibilities for ecosystem services|
|3.||Implementing technologies to replace or extend nature’s services|
This chapter briefly identifies some technologies that would augment or replace ecosystem services in order to reduce the direct human demand on nature. This identification is meant to be illustrative rather than comprehensive. This chapter does not, however, evaluate the net efficacy or desirability of listed technologies based on their costs, benefits, and impacts on nature. Those issues are outside this chapter’s scope.
ecosystem services. The benefits that ecosystems provide human beings. They include critical provisioning services such as food, timber, fiber, fuel and energy, and fresh water; regulating services that affect or modify, for instance, air and water quality, climate, erosion, diseases, pests, and natural hazards; cultural services such as fulfilling spiritual, religious, and aesthetic needs; and supporting services such as soil formation, photosynthesis, and nutrient cycling. This chapter does not explicitly address supporting services; they are implicit in the ability of ecosystems to deliver the other services.
substitute (or replacement) technologies. Technologies that wholly substitute for some facet or portion of goods and services that ecosystems provide for humanity.
technological augmentation of ecosystem services. The increase, through technological intervention, in the production of goods and services that nature provides. By helping fulfill humanity’s needs while limiting its direct demand on nature, such augmentation substitutes for natural inputs from ecosystems.
technology. Both tangible human-crafted objects or “hardware” (such as tools and machines) and humandevised intangibles or “software” (such as ideas, knowledge, programs, spreadsheets, operating rules, management systems, institutional arrangements, trade, and culture).
AS TECHNOLOGICAL SUBSTITUTION
Nature once produced virtually every service, good, or material that humanity used. It supplied all food, fiber, skins, water, and much of the fuel, medicines, and building materials. Over time, human beings developed technologies to coax more of these services from nature, often at the expense of other species. Agriculture and forestry increased the production of food, fiber, and timber. Human beings also developed animal husbandry, commandeering other species to serve their needs for a steadier protein diet and for fiber and skins for bodily warmth and protection; to do work on and off the farm; and to transport goods and people. Gradually at first but faster in the past century, technological substitutes were developed that reduced human demand met directly by nature’s services. Thus, synthetic fiber today limits human demand on nature to provide for clothes, skins, and leather; vinyl, plastics, and metals reduce reliance on timber for materials;