How Much Are the World’s Ecosystems Worth?

Posted on: June 16, 2014

Author: Rebecca J. Rosen

Report by The Atlantic


In 1997, ecologist Robert Constanza and a team of researchers estimated the value of the ecosystem services as around $33 trillion ($48.7 trillion in today’s dollars), more than the GDP of the entire globe at that time.

Armed with data from a massive international survey of ecosystems and their relationships with human well-being in communities around the world, Constanza and his team now say that the ecosystems are worth $142.7 trillion, far more than they had expected.

The services provided by coral reefs are now considered to be 42 times more valuable than they did in 1997. They estimate that each acre of reef provides $995,000 in services each year, for a total of $11 trillion worldwide.

This research also showed that the size of our ecological resources has diminished in that short period. As Zimmer explains, the value of their services these days would have been largely higher, $165.8 trillion if these ecosystems had kept the original healthy condition in 1997. Such damages to the ecosystem services by the deforestation and others cost $23 trillion a year, which can be compared with the gross domestic product of the US, $16.2 trillion.


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