Tony Juniper’s book ‘What has Nature ever done for us?’ shows that Nature underpins global GDP

January 2nd, 2013 by Profile Books Ltd

(click book cover to go to publisher's website)

Tony Juniper‘s book “What has Nature ever done for Us? is published by Profile Books Ltd on 14 January 2013. The book is available as a trade paperback and an ebook.

Jose Lopez, Executive Vice President of Operations at Nestlé said the book is a “highly readable, personal journey of discovery of nature and our reliance of it.”

Michael Clarke, Chief Executive of RSPB, said the book “explains how the welfare of the human species rests on the assets and services provided by the rest of nature, and makes the case for natural capital to be integral in a new economy fit for the future.”

The book provides examples of the unforeseen consequences of meddling with nature.

Indian farmers used an anti-inflammatory drug to treat their cattle, which indirectly caused a sharp increase in rabies infections, lost livelihoods and spiritual upheaval with costs running into billions of dollars.

The anti-inflammatory drug was toxic to vultures. Some 40 million vultures perished so there were fewer to pick cattle carcasses clean. That caused thousands of India’s poorest people who relied upon skin and bones to lose income.

At the same time many of the Indian Parsi sect were no longer able to pursue their religious practice of sky burial whereby vultures disposed of bodies.

The loss of vultures allowed the feral dog population to grow to seven million. Many more feral dogs meant more dog bites, and as a result an estimated extra 48,000 people died from rabies.

The estimated cost to the Indian economy from the loss of vultures over 14 years has been put at $34 billion.

This story of unintended consequences is one among many to make clear how Nature does far more for human society than most of us realise.

Tony Juniper at a RenewableUK press conference after his keynote speech (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The fact is that ‘natural services’ provided by nature – everything from Indian vultures to Chinese bees, and from soil microbes to ocean plankton – keep the global economy going.

If there is no Nature, there can be no economy.

Recycling miracles in the soil, an army of predators ridding us of unwanted pests, an abundance of life creating a genetic codebook that underpins our food and drink, pharmaceutical industries and much more: it has been estimated that these and other services are each year worth about double global GDP.

Yet we take most of Nature’s services for granted, imagining them free and limitless … until they suddenly switch off.

Tony Juniper’s book contains both warnings and positive stories such as how birds protect fruit harvests, coral reefs protect coasts from storms, and rainforests absorb billions of tonnes of carbon released into the atmosphere from cars and power stations.

Tony Juniper’s book provides the numbers and tells the story of how nature’s capital underpins GDP.

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive, The Wildlife Trusts, said “if we ever needed a book to remind us that we are part of Nature, not separate from it, this is it.”


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