The German newspaper Der Spiegel proposes a recap of the new paper, named The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity
So not only does destroying the environment is bad for our health as I related in a previous article, it also costs us a lot of money.
Here are some excerpts of this very long and very interesting article :
How much is the Earth worth to us? At a global conference in Bonn, Germany, representatives of 191 nations are discussing a revolution in conservation. By making a highly profitable business out of saving forests, whales and coral reefs, environmentalists hope to put a stop to a dramatic wave of extinctions.
(…) The possible rescue of the Congo rainforest is only one of many examples. A new age of conservation is dawning. For the first time, a value is being assigned to forests, plants and coral reefs, a value that makes them worthy of protection. It is nothing short of a paradigm shift in the environmental movement.
(…) At issue in Bonn is no less than the future of the planet and man’s dramatic failure to leave a livable earth to his children. Wilderness, species, habitats and ecosystems are disappearing at an unprecedented rate. From one day to the next, human beings wipe out between three and 130 species, depending on which estimate you go by. Each year, virgin forest one-and-a-half times the size of Switzerland falls victim to logging. Moors are disappearing, rivers are being forced into concrete channels and erosion is transforming mountainsides into wasteland.
(…) In addition, the destruction of nature and global warming tend to reinforce one another. When sea levels rise and mangrove forests disappear, coastlines become more exposed to the elements than ever before. As carbon dioxide continues to acidify the oceans (more…), the calcium structures of corals, snails and mussels become brittle.
At issue is the survival of exotic species like the red-headed vulture, the Banggai cardinalfish, the Gulf of California harbor porpoise, the Santa Catalina rattlesnake and the Indian gharial. But the survival of mankind as a species is also at stake, as the example of the recent cyclone in Burma (more…) illustrates. If the mangrove forests that once protected the Burmese coastline had been intact, the flooding would likely have been much less devastating.
(…) “Protecting diversity is much cheaper than allowing its destruction,” says Indian economist Pavan Sukhdev, who Gabriel and EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas convinced to head the study. Biodiversity — and efforts to preserve it — could in fact become an enormous business in the future. The new conservationists hope to sell intact forests because they store the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2). They also expect to see drugs developed from creatures like the cone snail and corals produce handsome profits in the future. The last oases of diversity are also expected to attract more and more well-heeled eco-tourists.
“Bonn has to push for a breakthrough,” says Achim Steiner, the head of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). To this day, according to Steiner, the promises made at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro 16 years ago, where both the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity were born, have “not been kept or have been systematically broken.”
(…) The global situation is equally alarming. Last year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red listed 16,297 plant and animal species as threatened, including almost a third of all amphibians, one in eight bird species and almost one-fourth of all mammal species. To develop its list, the IUCNB evaluated more than 41,000 species. The ones on its threatened list make up close to 40 percent of the total.
For further data on this you can also read this article from the AFP.