Hedging Our Bets

Assessing Nature’s Value at Chicago Ideas Week

Chicago, Illinois | October 16, 2013

Ponzi Schemes, portfolio diversification, hedge funds – you may think Heather Tallis, The Nature Conservancy’s lead scientist, is coming to Chicago to discuss wealth management. And in a way she is. From bumblebees to water treatment, Tallis will discuss good and bad investments in nature, then connect the dots between smart nature investments, health and wealth during “Environment: Conserve and Protect,” at Chicago Ideas Week, Saturday, Oct. 18 noon – 1:30 p.m. at Edlis Neeson Theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art 220 East Chicago Avenue.

Tallis, the first female science lead of The Nature Conservancy, one of the world’s leading conservation organizations, explains that cities and companies around the world have invested in an incredibly risky paradigm and then looked the other way. And now we are paying skyrocketing prices to do the things that nature already does for free such as cleaning and treating water, protecting against powerful weather patterns like Hurricane Sandy, and providing agricultural pest control.

Tallis notes that in 2007 US taxpayers spent more than $100 billion on water supply and wastewater treatments alone.

“In most cases, rainwater is drinkable,” she said. “But then we put it through a ‘demolition derby’ of sorts – it goes past fertilizers, pesticides, soil erodes into it. And then we have to pay all this money to get it purified again. Does that sound like a good investment?”

In any other scenario, paying money for a beat-up product sounds ridiculous, yet, in the case of water and many other natural resources, that’s exactly what happens, Tallis said. “Companies, cities, government and NGOs are catching on to the idea that this doesn’t make dollars and it doesn’t make sense. And we provide the science and structure to help them make a change beneficial to the people and nature.”

Come hear Tallis share real-world examples of how The Nature Conservancy and its many global partners work together to mitigate costs and damages through conservation technologies and new concepts that have proved successful.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 65 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

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