A UNITED BIOLOGY: E.O. WILSON (p6)
The major global conservation organizations have long since included in their programs an emphasis on economic development, on-site pilot programs, and fundraising to improve economies in areas of high conservation value on a sustainable basis. And it turns out that it works. I could spend hours talking about the examples and the economics of it and so on, but the bottom line is that the two great goals of the 21st century are, first, raising people around the world to a decent standard of living, particularly the 80% of the people living in developing countries, and second, bringing as much of the rest of life through with us. If we can do this, we will obtain the kind of better world that people everywhere believe should be our major human purpose.
And it's practicable—it is not at all expensive, in terms of the world domestic product. For example, Conservation International convened economists and biologists two years ago in order to estimate how much it would cost to save the rest of biodiversity. It turns out that in order to save the world's 25 hottest hot spots —those places where you have the greatest endangerment to whole ecosystems with large numbers of species—and then add the cost of saving the core wilderness areas of the great tropical forests of the Congo, the Amazon, and New Guinea, it would cost one payment of about $28 billion.
This is equal to approximately one part in a thousand of the world's domestic product. That's one tenth of one percent of the annual economic output of the world! One payment could cover 70 percent of the species of plants and animals that we know about on earth, so this is something that's obtainable. And part and parcel of that would be to improve the economies of the areas in which the main biodiversity is located.