Stand back, Brazil, and pay attention, Russia: The ocean contributes more every year to the global economy than either of you.
In a new report assessing the benefits, services, and assets the ocean provides to humanity, researchers found that the ocean generates $2.5 trillion a year in value, ranking it between the gross domestic product of the United Kingdom and that of Brazil, and as a major driver of global prosperity.
In total, all the assets of the ocean are worth $24 trillion, or 10 times more, they found.
The World Wildlife Fund prepared the report in collaboration with the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland and The Boston Consulting Group and released it on Earth Day, April 22.
Inherently, the ocean is priceless. Human civilization wouldn’t last very long without it. But by putting a monetary value on its vast resources, the researchers hope to illustrate what it will cost us if ocean pollution, overfishing, marine habitat destruction, and climate change continue unabated.
“Our oceans are the planet’s natural capital, a ‘factory’ producing an incredible array of goods and services that we all want and need,” Brad Ack, WWF senior vice president for oceans, said in a statement. “But every day we are degrading, over-consuming, and polluting this productive asset to a point of ever diminishing returns.”
WWF called for immediate action to curb climate change, which might also help diminish the impacts of global warming’s flip side, ocean acidification, the phenomenon that is disrupting the chemical balance of the seas.
This would “embed ocean recovery throughout the [United Nation’s] Sustainable Development Goals, and make good on strong commitments to protect coastal and marine areas,” the report reads.
So what’s the most valuable asset in the ocean? Take a look at our photo gallery.