PIR's mission is to develop new economic strategies that increase productivity in industrial and developing countries and simultaneously promote wise stewardship of the world's ecological resources. Using the tools of mathematics, economic theory and data analysis, PIR researchers assess the economic value of the ecological infrastructure that supports human societies.

Undisturbed habitats are disappearing all over the world. More than half the Serengeti Plain ecosystem, home to elephants, lions, giraffes and other large animals, has been disrupted since 1920 by farming, poaching, and other human activities.

More than 11,000 people were killed in a 1993 earthquake in India, but only 60 died in a 1994 earthquake of similar magnitude in Northridge, California, where scientific and engineering expertise helped prevent building collapses.

The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is now 358 parts per million, 27 percent higher than it was in 1800. The burning of fossil fuels and deforestation releases 6 billion tons of carbon a year, and China is expected to burn much more coal in the future.