Rainforest Deforestation Amounts to $5 Trillion in Annual Losses

A former British banker has determined the value of assets lost by depletion of rainforests, which includes $4.5 trillion in loss of biodiversity as well as the loss of wetlands and sources of pharmaceutical drugs, according to The Independent.

The costs break down to more than $650 per person in the world. The information will be presented at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Japan with hopes that linking deforestation to economic stability will provide incentive for action.

The economic impact includes $1 billion in anti-cancer medication that comes from marine organisms, with 50 percent of the industry coming from genetic resources.

Environmental issues linked with deforestation include an increase in carbon output from burning trees and the displacement and possible extinction of animal species.

American companies are also addressing the issue by making sure their products are free of products that endanger rainforests. One such example is palm oil, which can be found in anything from lipstick to cereal and also used for cooking, but the demand for this material can lead to destruction of existing forest to plant palm trees.

One idea that has been floated around is to pay developing countries to stop cutting down forests or allowing companies to save a forest as a carbon offset.

A common use for deforestation is for the production of paper, which accounts for more than 40 percent of logged trees. Paper also makes up about 40 percent of what the U.S. throws away each year by volume.

New paper can be produced using recycled content up to 7 times, meaning paper recycling prevents the need for virgin pulp. The U.S. currently recycles more than 63 percent of its paper, and almost 50 million tons was recovered in 2009 alone.

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