6 May 2015

Valuing the earth’s oceans at $24 Trillion is likely a huge understatement

A recent WWF international report identifies the asset value of the world’s oceans at $24 trillion- the equivalent of the seventh largest global economy. The accuracy of this however is certainly questionable…

Whilst the report includes in its remit direct outputs such as fishing, services including tourism, trade and transportation and then other benefits such as those around biotechnology, the calculations upon which these benefits are made should be approached with skepticism given the complexity of these capital flows. This is doubly true given our low understanding of potential feedback loops that could have further implications on both climate change and ecosystem regulation.

There is then failure to take into consideration the incalculable value of the ocean’s ecosystem services, including its role in regulating the climate and producing oxygen, as well as dismissing the intrinsic value of this beautiful and complex natural wonder that covers 71% of our planet.

Despite the $24 trillion being an incomplete estimate however, valuing the oceans in such a way draws public attention to the importance of their wellbeing.

The report states that “more than two-thirds of the annual base economic value of the ocean is produced by assets that rely directly on healthy ocean conditions” highlighting the importance of our role in safeguarding its condition and seriously addressing our attitudes to the natural world. As our modern lifestyles result in increasing amounts of waste ultimately being dumped in the ocean, this is becoming an increasingly important imperative for all.



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