Under the last government, the Department for Transport announced that it had discovered “the real value of time”. Here’s the surreal sentence in which this bombshell was dropped: “Forecast growth in the real value of time is shown in Table 3.”(1 ) Last week the Department for Environment announced the results of its National Ecosystem Assessment, a massive exercise involving 500 experts. The assessment, it tells us, establishes “the true value of nature … for the very first time.”(2 ) If you thought the true value of nature was the wonder and delight it invoked, you’re wrong. It turns out that it’s a figure with a pound sign on the front. All that remains is for the Cabinet Office to tell us the true value of love and the price of society, and we’ll have a single figure for the meaning of life.