What is the nature of nature. Is nature better left alone to achieve some perceived state of balance or is the very idea of balance a misperception of a World, which, in fact, is characterized by flux, upheaval, dynamism, and change.
Moreover, are Humans a natural part of the ecosystem or an alien invader, a destroyer of Worlds, to be segregated from true nature. And which version of nature do we use in time and space to assess Human actions that exploit, protect, or restore environmental amenities according to diverse Human needs, wants, and expectations.
If natural means simply before Human intervention, then all habitats could be claimed as natural, contrary to what people really mean and really want. We know that we are losing nature faster than it can restore itself.
Without urgent action, significant harm to people and planet is inevitable: inadequate food and water for our growing global population, significant harm to our economies, and the mass extinction of an estimated one million species.
Expanding the global protected areas is an essential policy requirement to halt the loss of fellow species on our planet. We must give space for nature. Protecting nature halts biodiversity loss, helps fight climate change and lessens the chance of pandemics. This is sound public policy, economically, ecologically and morally.
The value of Earth’s biodiversity – in monetary terms and in ecosystem services terms and in spiritual and moral terms that defy quantification – is far higher than the cost and effort needed to save it.
The ocean is like an investment account: to protect it from the unknown and unknowable, you have got to put part of it in a conservative portfolio as a ‘rainy day’ investment. In the same vein, we need to put part of our ocean portfolio in Marine Protected Areas.
The cost to protect 30% of our planet, ranging from about $103 to $178 billion, is not inconsequential. However, nature provides more than $125 trillion in benefits to humanity, global GDP is about $80 trillion, and the total global assets under management is about $125 trillion.
In this context, the cost of creating a resilient, planetary safety net for all life on Earth barely even registers as a statistical rounding error. The benefits to humanity are incalculable, and the cost of inaction is unthinkable.
The time to finance nature – for people and for planet – is now.