(NaturalNews) The economic cost of global deforestation far outstrips the money being lost from the current financial crisis, according to the findings of a study commissioned by the European Union.
"It's not only greater but it's also continuous, it's been happening every year, year after year," said study leader Pavan Sukhdev, an economist from Deutsche Bank. "So whereas Wall Street by various calculations has to date lost, within the financial sector, $1 to $1.5 trillion, the reality is that at today's rate we are losing natural capital at least between $2 to $5 trillion every year."
Giving another perspective to the sheer scale of this loss, the report notes that deforestation alone may be costing the world 7 percent of its GDP each year.
According to the study, only the first part of a review titled "The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB)," the bulk of this cost comes from the loss of formerly free services that are provided by intact forests, such as the absorption of carbon dioxide, water filtration and purification, and food production.
The authors noted that poor people are disproportionately affected by these costs, especially in the tropics, where people tend to depend more directly on forests for survival.
In its second phase, the TEEB review will also attempt to calculate the economic costs of other kinds of environmental destruction.
The TEEB review is part of a new effort by many conservationists to gain support for environmental preservation by the numerator in its economic benefits. According to Sukhdev, these arguments are already starting to reach many politicians and business executives.
"Times have changed," Sukhdev said. "Almost three years ago, even two years ago, their eyes would glaze over. Today, when I say this, they listen. In fact I get questions asked -- so how do you calculate this, how can we monetize it, what can we do about it, why don't you speak with so and so politician or such and such business."