Assets to life that have already been squandered

global asset and risk management has an embarrassing history

Loss of ecosystems: 80%

Over 80% of wild ecosystems are now settled, but of land that is suitable for agriculture, 98% is in use.

The loss of these ecosystems is most damaging because they serve as a cushion for the survival of plant and animal species, as well as for human survival. Many of these ecosystems, such as forests, coral reefs, and marshes, play additional roles as buffer zones for the water cycle or storm events, and their loss amplifies the risks that they were buffering.

Loss of wildlife: over half

The loss of wildlife population over the last 10,000 years is difficult to measure, but it is far more than half. In the last four decades alone, we have lost an estimated quarter of all wildlife. Some estimates place the terrestial vertibrate biomass of wildlife at 2 percent or 3 percent.

Loss of species

The loss of species over the last 10,000 years is known as the Holocene extinction. It is hard to estimate how many species we have already lost, because our assessment of the current stock of species is very incomplete.

Loss of nonrenewable resources: over half

We have used up roughly half of all easily assessable nonrenewable resources for energy (e.g. carbon, nuclear), building materials (e.g. metals), and agriculture (e.g. phosphorous).

The presence of resources in highly-concentrated useful form comes from rare events. Carbon deposits, for example, originate mostly from the Carboniferous period, and iron deposits from the Oxygen Crises event over two billion years ago. By raiding the pantry of future generations, we've left the resources scattered around the planet in such small amounts that recovery becomes uneconomical. (As well as created side-effects such as climate disturbances and poisoning, but these consequences may be less permanent in the long run.)

Desertification: 33%

33% of our land surface is now desert — some due to natural geographic shifts, and some due to mismanagement.

Loss of topsoil

Loss of topsoil due to mismanagement ranges from complete in some areas (such as human-made deserts) to partial (such as Greece and the great plains of North America).

Loss of fresh water

In order to make up for poor rainfall, many regions have pumped water out of aquifers at a rate faster than regeneration. As well as stealing from future generations, this mismanagement can also result in salt poisoning or loss of elevation (such as Jakarta).

Loss of climate stability

We have taxed climate stabilisers, such as the ocean's ability to even out temperature varations, or to soak up extra carbon without doing harm.

We have also taxed systems that lead to positive-feedback climate effects (i.e buffers whose loss accelerates further losses) such as icecaps and methane clathrate deposits.