Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Has Been Valued at a Whopping $42 Billion

With the Great Barrier Reef under unprecedented environmental stress, a new report is raising the alarm in terms of its potential economic loss. Valued at Aus$56 billion (US$42 billion), the largest living structure on Earth is now deemed “too big to fail.”

Located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, the Great Barrier reef is the largest coral reef system in the world. For the past few years, the corals have been undergoing a mass bleaching event that scientists primarily attribute to excessively warm waters. When water gets too warm, corals expel the algae living within, causing the coral to turn a ghostly white and eventually, starve. Earlier this year, a survey suggested that two-thirds of the GBR has suffered bleaching. Mercifully, a report issued just a few days ago shows that the global coral bleaching event may be coming to an end—but much of the damage has already been done. 

It’s not clear how long it will take—or even if—the bleached portions of the Great Barrier Reef will bounce back. But as a new report compiled by Deloitte Access Economics points out, the loss of the reef would represent an economic catastrophe for those who depend on it. 

As an asset, the GBR is worth an estimated Aus$56 billion (US$42 billion), of which Aus$29 billion comes from the tourism industry, and its 64,000 jobs. Approximately Aus$24 billion is attributed to indirect or non-use value, which describes people who know of the reef but have not yet visited (so it’s a measure of economic potential). The final $3 billion comes from recreational use, such as boating.

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