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

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!)

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

3 responses

  1. 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.

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

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