Every whale is worth $2 million? Why it’s time to add the value of nature to GDP

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Whales lead long lives sequestering carbon dioxide in their bodies. At death the creatures sink to the bottom of the ocean, still holding that absorbed gas. Ultimately just one of those mammals is responsible on average for pulling 33 tons of heat-trapping CO2 out of the atmosphere for centuries. The estimated economic value of this service to slow climate change? A tidy $2 million per individual whale. Readers of National Geographic may well be able to spout off a whale’s worth. College environmental programs certainly discuss it and all the benefits of healthy oceans. Even prestigious lending and aid institutions like the International Monetary Fund have reported on biodiverse ecosystems, sounding an alarm about what at-risk flora and fauna mean for economic health for the most vulnerable human populations.  The problem is there’s never been an official global accounting of natural capital, not in gross domestic product (GDP), the calculation of goods and service
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