Editor’s Note: The price of evolution

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Photo: Ian Nichols. Photo: Ian Nichols.

How much would you pay to save someone you love? Everything? How much, then, to save something you love from being lost forever? Depends on the value of the thing in question, right? Yet another magic mushrooming of the Internet spore is our obsession with price points. Forget coupon clipping, from E*Trade to eBay, you can play Alan Greenspan and split pennies buying diapers. When a shop fire in Bangladesh kills hundreds, you wonder about the cost of the wicking weave on your back and then buy it anyway along with a pair of brightly colored, featherweight kicks. No sweat, you’ve got to be fast to stay ahead in this dirty old rat race.

Then there’s the stuff that’s priceless. Not your kid’s first smile, maybe, but a Kickstarter campaign for a documentary you believe in or maybe keeping the doors open at your favorite local newspaper. How much is that worth? The bots want you to be impulsive. They know what you like. Buy it now with one click. They’ll take a billion pennies no one else wants and build another factory.

This week’s feature examines a forward-looking conservation program that Albemarle County started a few years back to save parcels of land with rare biological value. It’s exactly the type of initiative that got cut when the real estate bubble burst. How do you, as a taxpayer, value a steep shady grove where the trillium flower grows if you’ll never be able to see it? Isn’t the law of nature to let evolution run its course?

In that spirit I’m writing to let you know that we’re discontinuing The Rant, a staple in the paper for just over a decade. You’ve got one more week to rant to your heart’s content. In the meantime we’ll be asking you some questions and hoping you have the answers.

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