The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
Second are things whose values are not well captured in markets.
Genetic resources are generally undervalued because there are few
property rights in genetic resources and people therefore cannot
capture the benefits of the investments they might make in
preserving biodiversity. Many species are unlikely ever to have
marketable attributes, and it is virtually impossible to predict
which ones may ultimately have economic value. These consequences
are not well identified in current accounting systems.
Third are items that some people value for reasons that have
little to do with their ''usefulness" or economic worth. This
"ecocentric" valuation assigns intrinsic value to the living world.
Species loss, in this view, is undesirable regardless of any
economic value that may derive from those species. Humanity, it is
held, should not do things that alter the course of natural
The panel recognizes the difficulty of measuring these
noneconomic criteria in the quantitative method described above.
Since such values are codified, to some extent, in laws (e.g.,
those to protect biodiversity), potential greenhouse warming
responses must be consistent with protection of the noneconomic
values. These may be among the most difficult values to accommodate
if climates change substantially. In spite of the difficulties
outlined above, the panel believes this cost-effectiveness approach
is the most useful method for evaluating policies involving
response to greenhouse warming.
Other Factors Affecting Policy Choices
about Greenhouse Warming
Once policy options have been ranked, certain factors not
directly related to greenhouse warming come into play in the
One such factor concerns risk perception. People differ in their
willingness to take risks. We can expect people to differ in their
reaction to the potential and uncertain threat of greenhouse
warming as well. Some people may be distressed by the possibility
that cherished parts of their cultural heritage or natural
landscapes might be lost. Others might be unwilling to accept some
aspects of proposed adjustmentsperhaps abandoning their
traditional homeland and moving elsewhere. In any case, people and
organizations will differ in their judgments about how much society
should pay to reduce the chance of uncertain climate change.
Another factor is the constraint of limited resources. The
United States is a large, wealthy country. Many other nations are
severely constrained in their ability to act because of limited
financial and human resources.