July 4, 2014

Valuing Nature's Services - $125 to 145 Trillion / Year

The benefits human civilization enjoys from the world's natural ecosystems — grasslands, marshes, coral reefs, forests, and the like — amounts to something in the vicinity of $142.7 trillion a year. That's over eight times the value of the entire U.S. economy ($16.2 trillion a year), and almost twice the value of the world economy ($71.8 trillion a year). [Climate Progress]
In 1997, the global value of ecosystem services was estimated to be $46 trillion a year in 2007 $US. 
Using the same methods as in the 1997 paper but with updated data, the estimate for the total global ecosystem services in 2011 is $125 trillion per year (assuming updated unit values and changes to biome areas) and $145 trillion per year (assuming only unit values changed), both in 2007 $US. 
From this we estimated the loss of eco-services from 1997 to 2011 due to land use change at $4.3–20.2 trillion/yr, depending on which unit values are used. 
Many eco-services are best considered public goods or common pool resources, so conventional markets are often not the best institutional frameworks to manage them. However, these services must be (and are being) valued, and we need new, common asset institutions to better take these values into account. [Global Environmental Change] [NY Times]

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