Do we know the price of everything and the value of nothing?

Do we know the price of everything and the value of nothing?

Oscar Wilde’s quip about a cynic makes me wonder if we are all in danger of becoming cynical in our lifestyle choices and their impact on the natural environment – perhaps putting short term economic gain above understanding the longer-term value (aka “ecosystem services”) of our natural habitats and species?  When we buy our latest gadget at the lowest price on Amazon do we factor in the real environmental and social cost associated with the impact of producing, shipping, using and disposing of that gadget?

 I recently drew a simple sketch in response to a daily Facebook “Sketchbook Challenge”[i] prompt (the subject was “Supermarkets”).  My line of tree trunks reminded me of the ubiquitous bar code used by stores to price up goods.  (Maybe “bark code” might be more accurate in the context?).  A fellow sketcher in Australia responded “Your “bark code” is a great thought. The tree image brings to mind our post bushfire scenes in Australia. What price are we paying?…. In their distress, Australians have been hugely moved by the care and concern from other countries. And many of us hope it translates into far deeper global action”.

 As the need for urgent action to tackle major issues such as climate change and resource depletion, we all need to shake of our cynicism and make better buying decisions based on the true cost of what we buy.  Perhaps the time has come for us to “bark code” all our forests, mountains, streams, rivers and oceans?