« Back to Home Page

Sign up for the 3p daily dispatch:

GDP vs. Biodiversity Loss: Does the Correlation Mean Anything?

| Wednesday September 7th, 2005 | 3 Comments

GDP-ESA correlation.jpgThe US gross domestic product (GDP) is almost perfectly correlated to the number of organisms protected by the Endangered Species Act, according to Brian Czech and colleagues. This observation was made in the journal Science on a discussion of measures for biodiversity.
Fortunately, no one (few?) believe GDP is a good indicator for biodiversity. Consider some reactions though …
If GDP measures economic wealth, does it mean that economic wealth is incompatible with species protection specifically or biodiversity conservation generally? If GDP and biodiversity conservation are compatible, does the correlation indicate we haven’t made progress in 30 years? Does it takes wealth to protect biodiversity? Are we wealthier because we have reduced some species to near extinction? Maybe they’ve been barriers to wealth?
Can we really have the triple bottom line?
(This article was contributed by Ken Chung – thanks Ken!)


Newsletter Signup
  • Ben

    I think there is a good chance that population is the underlying variable governing these two. I would like to see those graphs normalised per capita.
    It is somewhat evident that the more humans there are the less ressources are left for animals. It is also easy to see that greater population contribute to higher GDP.

  • Carl Pearson

    The more wealthy society, the more money spent by special interests. Even greens have money to burn on their favorite issues.
    Case closed.

  • ben

    Since GDP and environmental destruction are caused by humans, I think given the right economic signals from governments to corporations, and the will of the public to solve the problem I think
    it would be difficult but possible to actually have a growing GDP and keep biodiversity….

    Environmental Economics: War is good, peace is bad