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Here’s how much a whale is worth to economists

In an ideal world, people would care about whales for the sake of the animals themselves—but in the real world, that’s not always the case. To reach money-minded policymakers, economists at the International Monetary Fund analyzed how much the average great whale is worth, National Geographic reports this week. After accounting for the economic benefits whales provide to industries such as ecotourism—and how much carbon they remove from the atmosphere by “sinking” it in their carbon-dense bodies—the researchers estimate that one great whale is worth about $2 million over the course of its life, they report in the trade publication Finance & Development. That means that, after counting up the world’s hundreds of thousands of great whales, the global population is worth about $1 trillion—though some say it’s priceless.

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