$172 Billion Will Be Sucked From Global Economy Every Year if We Let Coral Reefs Die Off

coral reef photo

photo: Jon Hanson via flickr.

Here's another potent warning about the real economic value that intact ecosystems have: New Scientist reports that ecological economist Pavan Sukdev, from the UNEP and lead author of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity has calculated that the world's coral reefs save us $172 billion per year:This figure was derived after reviewing 80 studies on the economic value of coral reefs, conducted between 1995-2009. A single hectare of reef was calculated to be worth $130,000-$1.2 million per year due to the economic value of fishing and other services dependent on the reef, plus the value reefs have in protecting coastlines in storms.

350ppm Target Needed to Save Coral Reefs
Which is pretty strong stuff in itself, but the original piece has this great quote from Sukhdev, who characterizes reducing coral reefs to economic value alone as being like fiddling while Rome burns and says, "Unless negotiators in Copenhagen agree to limit atmospheric carbon dioxide to 350ppm, they will sentence the world's coral reefs to death."

With the exception of voices from some low-lying island nations who have endorsed a 350ppm target -- as well as an increasing number of climate scientists -- the general political consensus is that 450ppm is an adequate CO2 target.

As for the easiest way of reducing emissions, and saving coral reefs, Sukhdev endorsed reducing deforestation and increasing reforestation, though the REDD-Plus program.

Half a Billion People Rely of Reefs for Food
To put this in some human context: Sukhdev says 500 million people depend on coral reefs for food. While a report earlier this year from WWF calculated that 100 million of those people live in Southeast Asia, where, if coral reefs are wiped out, an 80% decline in food production will result.

via: New Scientist
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