The 2019 OECD report states that the annual global value of ecosystem services is estimated at USD 125-140 trillion. Viewed differently, this would equate to more than 1.5x the value of annual global GDP. This makes biodiversity a global superpower with its closest rivals in terms of GDP value being America at USD 19.5 trillion and China at USD 12.2 trillion.
The problem is that, for many of us, this is like monopoly money – who can really relate to or understand such a value? Even for the 10 richest people in their world, their cumulative value only just surpasses USD 1 trillion. So maybe there is an alternative way to think about this.
Currently there are approximately 7.8 billion people on Earth. Within the human population there is significant diversity in terms of ethnicity, culture, personality and, more importantly, earning capacity. Likewise, it is estimated that there are 8.7 million species on Earth. These species are vastly diverse and each contributes differently to the greater interconnected planetary ecosystem. One species may be worth only a few dollars whereas one may be worth billions. Some species are blue collar workers, while others are equivalent to CEOs at the top of the food chain.
Structurally, there is therefore no difference between humans and the rest of the ecosystem. In fact, we could perceive humanity’s societal structure as essentially being a replication of the environment. It has the same principal interactions and hierarchy, save one exception. Humans may be a tenacious species, but they lack self-restraint and may find out too late that they are merely one species in the Earth’s ecosystem.
Perhaps humanity should begin to view biodiversity rather as equivalent to a global country without borders. One that sells its free-to-use services daily and without demands on other countries. It is the greatest trade partner, it is the ideal employee and job creator, it seeks no war and is not corrupted by power. It is the ultimate global leader. To overexploit its generosity and its resources and to kill it with blatant disregard is no different to declaring WWIII on the entire planet.
Biodiversity is the Earth’s greatest asset and the core essence upon which humanity’s survival depends. For our own survival and longevity, we need to remove our prejudices and appreciate each being no matter how insignificant it may appear, and treat them as a precious item before we discover that it is too late and the richness of our biodiversity is left in our memories, books and online images.