Every home owner understands that restoring and replacing a plumbing system, or a heating unit, is far more expensive than taking care of the system properly in the first place and the same is true for nature’s ecosystems. Global ecosystem services - storing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, cleansing fresh water supplies, preventing soil erosion and providing food security through oceans and coral reefs has been assessed to be worth as much as $33 trillion (£22.6 trillion) a year.
Restoring a forest costs 10 times as much as maintaining what we have. Building a reservoir and filtration system is far more expensive than preserving the intact forest systems that naturally filter and cleanse our drinking water.
Currently traditional measures of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) do not reflect changes in the quality and quantity of a nation's natural assets so imagine measuring your personal financial condition without factoring in a dramatic and ongoing decline in your assets.
At this time, as President Obama is reorienting the US’s national priorities, we need him to begin accounting for the state of the Earth’s natural assets and, fully integrate and fund ecosystem conservation priorities within the US’s national security considerations, as well as foreign policy and development assistance. By helping restore and protect developing nations' natural heritage throughout the world, the US will strengthen the bonds of friendship and trust through sustainable collaborations.
The stakes are high, the benefits enormous but confronting these challenges will need a bold new commitment to protect our most valuable joint asset - planet Earth. Will President Obama be up to the test?