New Report Shows U.S. Is The Biggest Loser As Nature Declines

A new World Wildlife Fund report entitled “Global Futures” released yesterday calculated the economic cost of nature’s decline across 140 countries ranging from India to Brazil, and it shows that if the world carries on with “business as usual” or BAU, the United States would take the biggest hit against its annual GDP in absolute terms, with an $83 billion reduction to its economy each year by 2050.   However, according to the study results, if the world adopts a more sustainable development pathway and safeguards areas that are important for biodiversity and ecosystem services, then annual global GDP would be 0.02% higher (US$ 11 billion) by 2050, generating an annual net gain of US$ 490 billion per year compared to the BAU scenario.

Why This Matters:  The myth that conservation is a drag on our economy is proven wrong again.  We can conserve our natural world and find ways to use its resources sustainably, and if we do, we actually come out ahead financially.  Or we continue on the path we are on now, and forests disappear, pollinators vanish, biodiversity collapses and rivers and the ocean are depleted, which will lead to disastrous outcomes and losses. We need governments and corporations to halt nature loss before its too late for the health, welfare, and prosperity of our children and grandchildren.  It can be hard for people to understand that our collective failure to conserve the natural environment has negative economic consequences — and to see those consequences projected on a country by country basis.  The report brings the negative impacts of the loss of natural resources and biodiversity into a very sharp focus and why the effort to conserve 30% of the planet by 2030 will pay off if only we can achieve it.

The Biggest Losers, By The Numbers

The Global Futures study, which was co-authored by the Natural Capital Project at Stanford University and the Global Trade and Analysis Project at Purdue University, predicts annual global losses by 2050 from various climate impacts:

  • $327 billion from damaged protections from flooding, storm surges and erosion due to changes in vegetation along coastlines and sea-level rises
  • $128 billion from loss of carbon storage which protects against climate change
  • $15 billion from lost habitats for bees and other pollinating insects
  • $19 billion from reduced water availability for agriculture
  • $7.5 billion from lost forests and forest ecosystem services 

And the study shows which countries stand to lose the most — behind, the U.S., the next five biggest losers in terms of actual loss of annual national GDP (billions) under a BAU scenario by 2050:

1)    United States of America (-$83)
2)    Japan (-$80)
3)    United Kingdom (-$21)
4)    India (-$20)
5)    Australia (-$20)
6)    Brazil (-$14)

Steve Polasky, Co-Founder of the Natural Capital Project explained the significance of the findings, saying The world’s economies, businesses and our own well-being all depend on nature. But from climate change, extreme weather and flooding to water shortages, soil erosion and species extinctions, evidence shows that our planet is changing faster than at any other time in history. The way we feed, fuel and finance ourselves is destroying the life-support systems on which we depend, risking global economic devastation.”

Up Next

Marin Woman Builds Effort to Get Amazon to Reuse Delivery Boxes

Marin Woman Builds Effort to Get Amazon to Reuse Delivery Boxes

Marin County, CA resident and former marketing consultant Carolyn Lund got fed up with all the waste she saw accumulating in her community as a result of Amazon deliveries. That’s why she set out to spearhead a local effort to get Amazon to pick up their used boxes. The Amazon to Reuse Boxes pilot program […]

Continue Reading 289 words
Recycling Is Becoming More Difficult, But Some Retailers Are Stepping Up To Help

Recycling Is Becoming More Difficult, But Some Retailers Are Stepping Up To Help

Forbes reported this week on retail giant Walmart’s efforts to work with consumers and suppliers on improving sustainable packaging to reduce the amount of “wish-cycling” — people tossing things into recycling bins on the hope that they can be recycled – and to improve packaging design with its end of life in mind. 

Why This Matters:  Consumers produced over 80 million tons of container and packaging waste in 2017, and only 50.1% was recycled, with the rest ending up in landfills or incinerated for energy.

Continue Reading 496 words
Democratic Candidates Pitch Green Infrastructure in Las Vegas Forum

Democratic Candidates Pitch Green Infrastructure in Las Vegas Forum

The non-profit group United For Infrastructure co-hosted with the Wall Street Journal a forum on how four of the leading Democratic candidates plan to truly make America great again by improving our country’s aging infrastructure, and the candidates’ proposals, for the most part, skewed green and sustainable. 

Why This Matters:  The forum was originally planned as a hat tip to labor unions, which are big in Nevada, but it ended up being a sustainability forum as well.

Continue Reading 631 words