A former student wrote today to make sure I'd seen this article about pricing nature from the Washington Post. Thanks! It's good, and an impressive feat for the economists involved. On the one hand, it may seem repugnant or silly to try to put a price tag on such resources (Ok, a river is worth $29 million? I'll take four, please.) The reality, though, is that cost-benefit analysis is happening all the time, whether it's overt or not. If a piece of land is zoned for development, the natural environment nearby is going to suffer a downgrade, and if we don't take that into account, then our analysis will be incomplete.
So how can we do a better job? Take a look at the article and find out! :)