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Date: 2018-02-24 Page is: DBtxt001.php L0700-NC-NATURAL-CAPITAL


Planet Earth / Water / Trees / Climate instability / Resource depletion /
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There are many components to natural capital.
Everything has been made possible because there is Natural Capital ... but it is not infinite and has been seriously depleted since the 1700s.
There is the sun. There is life … whether this is human life or all the other life forms from single cell organisms to all sorts of fish and animals and to plants in all their varieties.
There are minerals and there are fossil fuels that represent millions if not billions of years of sun energy capture.
There is land and water and atmosphere.
There are ecosystems and biodiversity.
Nature works in many mysterious ways that we know little or nothing about, but are essential to the good health of people and the planet.
We now know something about the important services that the natural world provides which enable a natural environment in which animals, including humans can thrive. We do damage to natural capital at our peril. Despite this, there is no accounting for the impact economic activity has on natural capital. This has to change.

PLANET is like a PLACE ... only bigger, and much more difficult to comprehend. PLANET is also a shorthand for Natural Capital and all the bounty provided by nature, and the power that comes from the sun and taken for granted.
Air is essential for human life, but air pollution has been one of the unintended consequences of progress towards a better quality of life and standard of living, and may now be one of the biggest risks mankind has ever faced.
Open L0700-NC-AIR
Much of the land on planet earth is either desert or mountain and unsuited to human habitation. Some people in the modern consumer economy are using more than their fair share of the land to support their lifestyle. Land is being developed into urban conurbations and for industrial scale agriculture reducing the land that is available for natural ecosystem services critical for the sustainability of the enviro-socio-economic system.
Open list0300-MDIA-Land
There is more water than land on planet earth, but only a small part of the water is potable freshwater. Most is saline in the oceans. Water is vital to life. A human will die after three days without any hydration and freshwater is increasingly scarce.
Open list0300-MDIA-Water
The living systems of nature ... including human beings ... are extremely complex and quite amazing. Despite the amazing growth in knowledge during the last century very little is known about the deep intricacies of these natural living systems. What is now known is that they are immensely important for sustaining the enviro-socio-economic system that is key to quality of life and standard of living.
Open list0300-MDIA-Natures-living-systems
The sun is the source of all the energy that is available on the earth. The natural systems that convert the energy of the sun into other forms of energy that endure through time are critical for the sustainability of the planet, but poorly understood both in science and more dangerously by policy makers.
Open list0300-MDIA-Sun
NATURAL CAPITAL has been diminished significantly since the beginning of the modern era ... since the start of the agricultural revolution and then the industrial revolution. There has been resource depletion and environmental degradation that has not been taken into account in the metrics of socio-economic performance and no credit given for ecosystem remediation, an activity now growing, but long overdue. Resource Depletion and Environmental Degradation is a shorthand way of embracing everything that relates to loss of Natural Capital. When some of nature's bounty is consumed in a manner that means it can never be recovered, there is resource depletion. When the environment is damaged in some way, and there is some possibility that there might be some future recovery, this is environmental degradation. Both are stresses on the planet, that imply risk for the future.
Open list0300-MDIA-Ecosystem-Services---> '' > Open L0700-NC-CLIMATE
CLIMATE ... a natural system that is essential to the natural equilibrium of planet earth. The equilibrium has changed slowly over the past millions of years but change is now happening faster than at any time in history ... that is geological history. Scientists know a lot about what has happened in the past and know that this rapid change is happening. They do not know exactly where a new equilibriun will be established as a result of changes that have been happening as a result of human activity during the past few centuries.

Measurements for Natural Capital
The goal must be to have a single number that represents the totality of the impact a reporting entity is having on all components of Natural Capital and another number that reflects the contrinution the reporting entity is having on all components of Human Capital. Performance is a measure derived from these two numbers.

It makes no sense that water is taken for free in so many settings. Water is one of the most valuable substances on the planet and MDIA quantification should reflect this. The MDIA standard value should reflect changes in water abundance that exist from place to place. Too little water and there are problems. Too much water and there are problems.
NC-Water-001-150102 .... Peter Burgess DRAFT
Open PDF ... NC-Water-001-150102

Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions
The scientific community has concluded that green house gas (GHG) emissions are in the process of changing the world's climate. This is sometimes referred to as global warming, but the changes are likely to be quite unpredictable as climate systems change significantly. For example, a change in the Gulf Stream that warms Europe could result in a Europe that becomes significntly colder than it now is. Carbon Dioxide emissions (CO2e) are the highest volume of GHGs, but methane emissions (CH4e) are more potent than CO2e by a factor of more than 20.
Almost every human activity, especially those involving the consumption of energy, produce GHGs. The people of the USA and Canada are among the highest per capita producers of GHGs.
Open PDF ... TVM-MDIA-About-Carbon-131111a
Methane ... Role of ruminant animals in the production of methane
Estimation of the methane production related to ruminant animal digestion
Open PDF ... Role-of-Ruminant-Animals
EPA ... estimating emissions from different types of soils
Open PDF ... Emissions by soil type

There are a mix of
The total US GHG emissions for the USA are around 5 million metric kilo-tons CO2 equivalent per year ... for a population of around 320 million people.
Total emissions for China exceed 12 million metric kilo-tons CO2 equivalent per year ... for a population of more than 1.3 billion people ... up from less than 3 million metric kilo-tons CO2 equivalent in 1980
The per capita emissions of CO2 equivalent in the USA is in excess of 15 metric tons compared to China which is around 9 metric tons, up from less than 3 in the early 80s.
CO2 emissions (kt)
Carbon dioxide emissions are those stemming from the burning of fossil fuels and the manufacture of cement. They include carbon dioxide produced during consumption of solid, liquid, and gas fuels and gas flaring.
Source: Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee, United States.
License Open
Aggregation Method: Gap-filled total
Development Relevance: Carbon dioxide (CO2) is naturally occurring gas fixed by photosynthesis into organic matter. A byproduct of fossil fuel combustion and biomass burning, it is also emitted from land use changes and other industrial processes. It is the principal anthropogenic greenhouse gas that affects the Earth's radiative balance. It is the reference gas against which other greenhouse gases are measured, thus having a Global Warming Potential of 1. Burning of carbon-based fuels since the industrial revolution has rapidly increased concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, increasing the rate of global warming and causing anthropogenic climate change. It is also a major source of ocean acidification since it dissolves in water to form carbonic acid. The addition of man-made greenhouse gases to the Atmosphere disturbs the earth's radiative balance. This is leading to an increase in the earth's surface temperature and to related effects on climate, sea level rise and world agriculture. Emissions of CO2 are from burning oil, coal and gas for energy use, burning wood and waste materials, and from industrial processes such as cement production. Emission intensity is the average emission rate of a given pollutant from a given source relative to the intensity of a specific activity. Emission intensities are also used to compare the environmental impact of different fuels or activities. The related terms - emission factor and carbon intensity - are often used interchangeably. The carbon dioxide emissions of a country are only an indicator of one greenhouse gas. For a more complete idea of how a country influences climate change, gases such as methane and nitrous oxide should be taken into account. This is particularly important in agricultural economies. The environmental effects of carbon dioxide are of significant interest. Carbon dioxide (CO2) makes up the largest share of the greenhouse gases contributing to global warming and climate change. Converting all other greenhouse gases (methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)) to carbon dioxide (or CO2) equivalents makes it possible to compare them and to determine their individual and total contributions to global warming. The Kyoto Protocol, an environmental agreement adopted in 1997 by many of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is working towards curbing CO2 emissions globally.
Limitations and Exceptions: The U.S. Department of Energy's Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) calculates annual anthropogenic emissions from data on fossil fuel consumption (from the United Nations Statistics Division's World Energy Data Set) and world cement manufacturing (from the U.S. Department of Interior's Geological Survey, USGS 2011). Although estimates of global carbon dioxide emissions are probably accurate within 10 percent (as calculated from global average fuel chemistry and use), country estimates may have larger error bounds. Trends estimated from a consistent time series tend to be more accurate than individual values. Each year the CDIAC recalculates the entire time series since 1949, incorporating recent findings and corrections. Estimates exclude fuels supplied to ships and aircraft in international transport because of the difficulty of apportioning the fuels among benefiting countries.
Periodicity: Annual
Statistical Concept and Methodology: Carbon dioxide emissions, largely by-products of energy production and use, account for the largest share of greenhouse gases, which are associated with global warming. Anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions result primarily from fossil fuel combustion and cement manufacturing. In combustion different fossil fuels release different amounts of carbon dioxide for the same level of energy use: oil releases about 50 percent more carbon dioxide than natural gas, and coal releases about twice as much. Cement manufacturing releases about half a metric ton of carbon dioxide for each metric ton of cement produced. Data for carbon dioxide emissions include gases from the burning of fossil fuels and cement manufacture, but excludes emissions from land use such as deforestation. The unit of measurement is kt (kiloton). Carbon dioxide emissions are often calculated and reported as elemental carbon. The were converted to actual carbon dioxide mass by multiplying them by 3.667 (the ratio of the mass of carbon to that of carbon dioxide).
Go to World Bank data USA total greenhouse gas emissions (kt of CO2 equivalent)1970 - 2012
Annual total US emission of GHGs was around 7.2 million metric kilotons CO2 equivalent in 1984. In 2012 it was estimated to be under 6.4 million metric kilotons CO2 equivelent. In the period 1970 to 1985 total US emissions averaged around 5.8 million metric kilotons CO2 equivalent.
The amount of GHG emissions in the USA has a strong correlation with GDP and consumption. In the 1970s as a result of the global oil shock, economic growth in the USA was disrupted, especially for energy intensive industries, like for example, cement and steel. Economic growth in the 1980s and aggregate US emissions increased and then reduced as GDP and consumption and related production stalled.
With a population of around 320 million people, 6.4 million kilotons is equivalent to a per capita CO2 equivelent emission of 20 metric tons per person.
Source: European Commission, Joint Research Centre ( JRC )/Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency ( PBL ). Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research ( EDGAR ), EDGARv4.2 FT2012:
Note the difference in the y-axis between the USA graphic and the China graphic.
Go to World Bank data China total greenhouse gas emissions (kt of CO2 equivalent) 1970 to 2012
In 1970 the total GHG emissions were under 2 million metric kilotons CO2 equivalent. By 2012 this had risen to more than 12 million metric kilotons. As in the USA the total emissions has a strong correlation with the level of economic activity which has also grown rapidly in the same period.
With a population of 1.35 billion in 2012, and 12 million metric kilotons CO2 equivalent of emissions in total, the per capita emission computes to 8.9 metric tons CO2 equivalent per capita. The reported CO2 equivalent metric tons is 7.5 metric tons CO2 equivalent per capita. It is not obvious why these numbers are not somewhat closer.
Source: European Commission, Joint Research Centre ( JRC )/Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency ( PBL ). Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research ( EDGAR ), EDGARv4.2 FT2012:
The key takeaway from the comparison between USA and China is that the efficiency of the USA economy taking emissions into consideration is very low. Yhere is a huge potential to use modern technology and engineering to improve this efficiency.
Go to World Bank data Denmark total greenhouse gas emissions (kt of CO2 equivalent) 1970 to 2012
From 1970 to 1990 there was a small upward trend in the total GHG emissions for the country. Since 1990 to 2012 there has been a substantial reduction in the total GHG emissions ... a reduction to a level that is about 50% of the 1970 to 1990 average emissions.
Source: European Commission, Joint Research Centre ( JRC )/Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency ( PBL ). Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research ( EDGAR ), EDGARv4.2 FT2012:
A similar takeaway arises from the comparison between USA and Denmark. The USA economy may be profitable in a financial sense, but taking emissions into consideration, the efficiency is very low. There is a huge potential to use modern technology and engineering to improve this efficiency. This should be the biggest sector for employment growth over the next few decades.
Go to World Bank data Denmark per capita C)2 emissions in metric tons CO2 per capita - 1970 to 2012
From 1970 to 1996 the per capita CO2 emissions was averaging around 11 tons per capita poer year. Since 1996 this has been dropping significantly and by 2012 had dropped below 7 tons per capita per year.
Source: European Commission, Joint Research Centre ( JRC )/Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency ( PBL ). Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research ( EDGAR ), EDGARv4.2 FT2012:
Go to World Bank data India CO2 emissions (metric tons per capita)... 1970 - 2012 There has been a very large increase in per capita CO2 emissions in India from 1970 to 2012. Per capita emissions in 2012 were calculated to be around 1.6 metric tons CO2 per capita. This compares with the US per capita CO2 emissions of 20 metric tons.
Source: Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee, United States.
The population of India is around 1.1 billion. As the country modernises and increases its economic activity there will be a massive increase in the total GHG emissions from India. If the country embraces the US model for socio-enviro-economic development the total annual GHG emissions from India will increase by some 10 times. This would be catastrophic for climate stability, and for all practical purposes is being ignored by policy makers at the highest levels.

Initiatives to Improve Natural Capital
Natural Capital ... Seeds and Soil
Seeds and Soil vs. the Tyranny of Corporate Power: A 2015 Message of Hope
Open file 8887
HC-2012 ... The-New-Business-Imperative-Valuing-Natural-Capital
Open PDF ... The-New-Business-Imperative-Valuing-Natural-Capital
Open PDF ... Natural-Capital_HBR_1999
Amory Lovins ... Stuff-Story-of-Change
Open PDF ... Stuff-Story-of-Change

Natural Capital Committee ... UK

Open PDF ... NCC-The-State-of-Natural-Capital-Feb-2015
Open PDF ... Natural-Capital-Protocol-RFP-140328
Open PDF ... Tree-Nation-Tropical-tree-sequestration-of-CO2
Open PDF ... University-of-Michigan-The-Global-Water-and-Nitrogen-Cycles

Ecosystem Services
The observed decline in species populations is inextricably linked to the state of the ecosystems that sustain them. Destruction of these ecosystems represents a risk not just to resident plants and wildlife, but to humans as well. For ecosystems provide us with food, fresh water, clean air, energy, medicine, and recreation. In addition, we depend upon healthy and diverse natural systems for the regulation and purification of water and air, climatic conditions, pollination and seed dispersal, and control of pests and diseases (Figure 6).
The available stock of renewable and non-renewable natural resources that supports human life (e.g., plants, animals, air, water, soils, minerals) can be described as “natural capital”. Natural capital delivers a flow of benefits to people both locally and globally. The benefits themselves are often referred to as “ecosystem services”. Natural capital assets evolved to be self-sustaining. But increased human pressure – such as conversion of natural habitat to agriculture, overexploitation of fisheries, pollution of freshwater by industries, urbanization and unsustainable farming and fishing practices – is diminishing natural capital at a faster rate than it can be replenished. We are already experiencing the consequences of natural capital depletion. These consequences are expected to grow over time, increasing food and water insecurity, raising prices for many commodities, and increasing competition for land and water.
Greater competition for natural capital will exacerbate conflict and migration, climate change and vulnerability to natural disasters such as flooding and drought. There will be a general decline in physical and mental health and well-being and this will lead to more conflict and migration.
Courtesy: Ecological Footprint Network
The True Value Accounting system integrates thinking about how ecosystem services interacts with People Built Systems and Structures that have been created at an ever increasing pace through the agricultural revolution, the industrial evolution and now the knowledge revolution to improve quality of life ... or not!

The Many Components of Ecosystem Services

Raw materials
Medical resources
Fresh water

Mental and physical health
Recreation and ecotourism
Aesthetic values
Religious and spiritual values

Nutrient cycling
Soil formation

Air quality regulation
Climate regulation
Water regulation
Ecosystem regulation
Water purification and waste treatment
Disease and pest regulation
Moderation of extreme events

The text being discussed is available at

CAVEAT. The information on this website may only be used for socio-economic performance analysis, personal information, education and limited low profit purposes
Copyright © 2005-2015 Tr-Ac-Net Inc. Peter Burgess. All rights reserved.

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