Well insects certainly seemed to have been vastly undervalued in the past. According to a piece of research by conservationists Mace Vaughan and John Losey (published today in the Journal BioScience, you can find another summary here) insects contribute an impressive $57 billion to the US economy every year even on a fairly conservative estimate. And be careful, according to our authors, conservative here certainly does mean conservative, since:
Excluded from the analysis were the services provided by domestically reared insects such as honeybees. "If you look at all of the services across the board, you're looking at hundreds of billions of dollars," Vaughan says.
Of course it's hard to know exactly what importance can be attached to such numbers, but I think the bigger point they are making is certainly a valid one: our economic system works the way it does because it is embedded in a much more extensive network of systems, including the bio-diversity one these authors seek to draw our attention to.
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