In 1996, Prof Shahid Naeem was part of a team of researchers who set out to value the Earth. Specifically, they were trying to establish the dollar value of all of the “ecosystem services” the planet provides to humans every year. Around $33tn, they concluded, nearly double global GDP at the time.
The services of forest elephants are worth $1.75m for each animal, the International Monetary Fund’s Ralph Chamihas estimated; more than the $40,000 a poacher might get for shooting the mammal for ivory. Whales are worth slightly more at over $2m, he also estimates, due to their “startling” carbon capture potential, and therefore deserve better protection.
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