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The cost of environmental destruction

Article published on the 2008-10-24 Latest update 2008-10-25 14:29 TU

Morning traffic on the Paris ring road(Photo: AFP)

Morning traffic on the Paris ring road
(Photo: AFP)

Governments have rushed to put together rescue packages for banks and finance houses. But, with human activity contributing to climate change and destroying nature's checks and balances, what of the costs of ecological damage?

The governments in rich countries are pledging, sometimes even actually paying, a total of nearly a trillion dollars to help out banks and finance companies.

These are the bodies that fomented the latest crisis in a world economic system where finance capital dominates all else. But in a different sphere, worse is in store.

Ecological damage costs the world two trillion to five trillion dollars per year, according to estimates in a preliminary report from a European Union-sponsored group of economists.

Their calculation attempts to put a value on the services, such as absorbing carbon dioxide and nitrogen fixation, that natural systems like forests provide for humans.