There is a threat of trillion dollar invasions to the global economy

Invasive species have suffered a lot of damage over the past 50 years – about $ 1 trillion. Now scientists are warning that there is still more to come.

From ruining agricultural yields to wreaking havoc on human health, invasive species have been responsible for a range of global diseases over the past half-century that have cost the world $ 1.28 trillion, researchers said in an article published Wednesday in a scientific journal. Nature. While the number is staggering to understand, it is likely an underestimate, they said.

Costs will increase as these so-called biological invasions – which occur when foreign animals, plants or pathogens are introduced to new regions – become more frequent and exacerbated by climate change and globalization.

“This trillion dollar bill shows no sign of slowing down, with a threefold increase per decade,” lead author Christophe Diagne of the University of Paris-Saclay said in a statement. “The global costs of invasive alien species are so huge that we’ve spent months checking our models and this overall estimate, to make sure we’re not overdoing it.”

The acceleration can be explained in part by the increase in global trade and transport options which have created more opportunities for invasions. The increasing occupation of land for agriculture and infrastructure has also made societies more vulnerable to the impacts of these invasions.

That an alien species can cause disproportionate economic and human losses is hardly a surprise in recent times. One need only look at the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic to grasp the depth of the economic scars inflicted by a virus that could be dates back to a wet market for live animals in Wuhan, China. These grim forecasts reflect the sense of urgency that public health officials have felt for decades to warn that such a devastating epidemic was inevitable.

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The average cost of damage exceeded the gross domestic product of 50 countries on the African continent in 2017 and is more than 20 times greater than the total funds available to the World Health Organization and the United Nations combined, said the researchers. Emerging diseases such as Covid-19 were not included in the tally.

“We found that costs doubled roughly every six years, a pattern that mimics the continued increase in the number of alien species around the world,” according to fellow researcher Corey Bradshaw of Flinders University.

The researchers added that biological invasions should become a major factor when deciding on transnational projects. A contemporary example is China’s Belt and Road Initiative which will pave the way for the introduction of new species to the world, they said.

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