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The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity- TEEB
Date:5/29/2008

with serious consequences:

  • 11% of the natural areas remaining in 2000 could be lost, chiefly as a result of conversion for agriculture, the expansion of infrastructure, and climate change

  • almost 40% of the land currently under low-impact forms of agriculture could be converted to intensive agricultural use, with further biodiversity losses

  • 60% of coral reefs could be lost - even by 2030 - through fishing, pollution, diseases, invasive alien species, and coral bleaching due to climate change.

Current trends on land and in the oceans demonstrate the severe dangers that biodiversity loss poses to human health and welfare. Climate change is exacerbating this problem. And again, as with climate change, it is the world's poor who are most at risk from the continuing loss of biodiversity. They are the ones most reliant on the ecosystem services which are being undermined by flawed economic analysis and policy mistakes.

Biodiversity Protection and Questions of Equity and Ethics

Poverty and the loss of biodiversity are inextricably linked: the real beneficiaries of many of the services of ecosystems and biodiversity are predominantly the poor. The livelihoods most affected are subsistence farming, animal husbandry, fishing and informal forestry - most of the world's poor are dependent on them. The annual losses of biodiversity and ecosystems are typically estimated, in terms of social wellbeing, as equivalent to a few percentage points of GDP. If, however, we re-express these in human terms, based on the principle of equity, then the argument for reducing such losses gains considerable strength.

Ethical choices are so deeply engrained into the building blocks of our economic models that we are no longer aware of them. However, if you take the very obvious example of discount rates, a 4% discount rate (most are between 3 and 5 %) means that we value a natural service to our own grandchild
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Contact: Tilo Arnhold
presse@ufz.de
49-341-235-1635
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert  

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