News and Events Involving Environmental Law, Published by Chicago Environmental Attorney Dave Scriven-Young
of Peckar & Abramson, P.C. -- (312) 239-9722

Interview with Tim Gieseke, the Author of “EcoCommerce 101”

Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tim Gieseke, author of the book EcoCommerce 101.  Mr. Gieseke is the founder of Ag Resource Strategies, LLC, a business that develops and implements on-farm environmental quality assurance programs.  Please check out the website for his book at http://www.ecocommerce101.com/.  Here is the transcript of my interview with Mr. Gieseke:

Scriven-Young: Please tell me about your background and what led you to write your book.

Gieseke: I have been in the natural resource business since the early 90’s finishing up my Masters Degree in Environmental Sciences and began farming shortly thereafter. I have been farming for about 15 years on a part-time basis in South Central Minnesota. Carrying that environmental background with me, and then along with the farming operation, I worked for a local government agency that provided technical assistance to aid crop or livestock producers to add conservation to their land in some manner. Throughout this process I never felt like the system in place was really getting at the outcomes. They weren’t really integrated with agriculture, they were kind of separate entities working on the same issues separately. It was the same experience when I moved on to federal farm policy work. So when I began my business in October of 2007, I used the tag line “unifying agriculture, economics and ecological goals” and was focused on how we pull them all together. As a producer, I understood the dynamics of agriculture production, and I also understood the demands that were being placed on agriculture. Many others were each developing a different system to somehow try to quantify, reward, and pay for ecological services. As a producer I knew that I needed to combine them and put them on one page.

Scriven-Young: In the preface to your book you talk about moral objectives and that basically people are morally interested in protecting the environment. But if they don’t have the proper economic signal, those moral objectives don’t always get pursued. How does your book try to give those economic signals?

Gieseke: I do believe that most people like to do the good thing. But I think, as we saw the climate changes issue emerge, I think people would have generally went along with that if they saw there was some economic benefits to it. It could have been woven into their lives and their activities if they had a market signal for that. As we get more socially networked and these ecological issues become more understood, I think people will want to do it. But when they get up in the morning and those activities are not valued, they have to make those decisions on that kind of a hierarchy until you come down to your community, family and self and what do they have to do to get their stuff done today. What EcoCommerce does is to provide an avenue for those global, national, and regional ecoservice goods to be presented to people so when they get up in the morning and they make decisions, one of their economic decisions can be to do activities to provide cleaner water downstream, for example. EcoCommerce in theory should be able to be applied to all human activities within terrestrial types of ecosystems; urban, rural, forestry and agriculture.

Scriven-Young: What are some of the challenges to providing those market signals for ecoservices?

Gieseke: I think a lot of the challenges were self-generated in the process of building these markets [that are in place today]. They have these duplicities, meaning if you do one activity you shouldn’t get paid twice for producing two different things from that one activity. Permanency so that if you do store carbon or generate clean water then you have to do it forever. And , additionalities, is that if you were providing it today you shouldn’t get paid for providing it tomorrow unless you provide additional ecoservices. So I look at ecoservices as commodities and really my perspective is that if you start putting these additional burdens on these commodities, you are not going to move this market forward. I think several of the obstacles that are in place today are artificial. To develop a foundation for these new type of markets I asked, “how am I going to provide this service in a commodities fashion that is fluid” and to do that we had to get rid of these artificial barriers or burdens. If people walk through the EcoCommerce model, they will recognize that I remove [the challenges] and explain why they should be removed.

Scriven-Young: Who is the intended audience for your book?

Gieseke: Its quite broad. I look at it as many sectors, [including] legal counsel, financial traders, government technical staff, economists, legislative staff, and agricultural or policy organizations such as National Corn Growers Association and even specific industries such as ethanol processors. Anyone who was engaged in the bioeconomy really was an open audience, and in particular those that provide leadership within those sectors.

Scriven-Young: Finally, where can we get a copy?

Gieseke: The website at www.ecocommerce101.com, and the book will be available around January 31st. After the release date, it will be available at all common book sites such as Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.





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