The Great Nothing: Billions

Intact, undisturbed, conserved, and cared for… the Great Nothing is Billions and Billions

“There’s nothing there. We could cut the trees and build a golf course. Put up condos. Cut the ridge, bulldoze roads, and erect wind turbines. Dam the river. Build a high speed highway through the middle of the state. Because there’s nothing there. There’s sentimental history from old-timers and enviros who make it sound like religion, but really, there’s nothing there.”  Snow Sparkle SBay cove++

That’s the subtext, the implied conversation every developer has with us and I’m done with it. For years I’ve sat in echoing public spaces and heard builders offer to fill the Nothing with money and with jobs.

But the Great Nothing in Maine is worth billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. Globally, it’s worth many trillions.

At these meetings and hearings I watch the real people—people to whom this promise is either hope or despair. I watch them listen to the lawyers and consultants until it’s their turn to either plead for the better life developers have promised them or beg for an intact outdoor life that’s nurtured them and put food on the table.downeast-lakes-maine-fly-fishing[1]

ValueNature is based on an earlier Maine Audubon project called “Valuing the Nature of Maine.” In that bibliography we shared information on the many ways Maine’s outdoors delivers revenue and jobs. We used it to educate decision makers poised to eliminate the state’s protective legislation.

When we added value, we changed the debate. Legislation to eliminate shore land zoning went down to defeat as lawmakers understood how protective buffers delivered clean water that elevated real estate values. Legislation to eliminate protective zoning for wildlife was withdrawn when lawmakers understood that wildlife—in Maine alone—delivered a billion dollars of yearly economic value.

ValueNature restarts this conversation: our woods, waters, and wildlife habitat are often filled with more value than anything a developer might offer us. Can we create a place where people who plead their case and decision makers who decide our future will find compelling economic information?

 Share the Wealth. Please share articles, reports, research, books, and links from Maine and everywhere…anything that might help us make nature’s value more visible. Go to our Add More Economic Material page or email your contribution to     Short on time? Just send along a PDF or link.


Soon we might have better answers for questions like these:

If a mine in northern Maine pollutes a river system that supports drinking water, wetlands and waters valued by sportsmen, and pristine lakes that deliver summer tourism, what’s the price of that loss?

How many millions of dollars of fresh water angling  revenue (annually) will a Keystone Pipeline destroy if it leaks across two or three states?