While most of our attention has been focused on the financial turmoil and losses mounting in the trillions of dollars, the World Conservation Congress was meeting to discuss another, perhaps, more serious loss of capital–natural capital. In an interview with BBC, Pavan Suhkdev recounted the conclusion of a study of the annual attrition of global ecological resources. He said that losses of natural capital, just in deforestation, amount to about 7% of global GDP.

It’s not only greater but it’s also continuous, it’s been happening every year, year after year. . . So whereas Wall Street by various calculations has to date lost, within the financial sector, $1-$1.5 trillion, the reality is that at today’s rate we are losing natural capital at least between $2-$5 trillion every year.

The report was the first phase of a longer study, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, sponsored by the German Government. The sponsors of the study hope that the results will have the same impact as the Stern Report on Climate Change, which many see as the turning point in getting that issue onto the agendas of global leaders.
A few posts ago, I referred to Herman Daly’s claim that the economy cannot grow beyond the limits set by the natural resources system from which the basic inputs come. With such great losses annually, the time it will take to approach these limits grows shorter every year.

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