What'll it cost us each year to safeguard our most precious wildlife and reserves? About $76bn, according to a recent study on endangered species and protected areas. The research, published in the journal Science, suggests that the massive price tag is essential to meeting globally agreed conservation standards.
First questions first: is it worth it? Absolutely.
A decade ago, the world came together to fight biodiversity loss, setting reduction standards for 2010. That effort failed, so governments came together again to set global benchmarks for 2020. The $76bn is what we'll have to pay if we want to meet them.
The study's lead researcher, environmental economist Donal McCarthy, notes that the actual cost of protecting endangered species annually is only about $5bn – but it's building and safeguarding protected areas that's really expensive. And that shouldn't matter. The natural world has borne the brunt of our voracious development for centuries, and to abdicate our responsibility as stewards is to sever our connection to the planet.
Consider it this way. $76bn is a high figure, but as the researcher point out, it's about 1% of the actual value of the ecosystems we're losing yearly – and about one-fifth of what we spend on soft drinks.
Sources: Science, BBC