Although the Earth is our home planet, which means it is the most precious place for us, it isn’t priceless and in fact, you could probably place a price tag on it, based on what it is and what it offers.
In fact, the value that the Earth’s resources offer to humans adds up to a pretty colossal number, and the Earth has a rather real price tag. Although there is no real reason to consider buying or selling our world, it’s always good to think of real money values so you know what you should be fighting to protect.
How Much Does the Earth Cost?
There is a special formula created by a scientist called Dr. Greg Laughlin, a professor of astronomy at Yale University, that is meant to put a price on our planet. According to the calculation he made in 2020, our Earth is worth around $5 quadrillion (which is $5,000,000,000,000,000). This number was obtained by factoring in how things like the age, temperature, and mass of the planet, work together to give the Earth its capacity to sustain life.
Only based on this feature that the earth has, Laughlin also estimated the worth of other planets in our solar system based on their ability to provide life-sustaining resources for living organisms.
The same math gave Mars, our closest neighbor, a price of just around $16,000, which is considerably less than a lot of things you can currently buy, including a used car. Of course, if we were to factor in things like natural resources and minerals, Mars would be worth a lot more. Venus is priced even lower based on the same formula, at about one cent. This is mainly due to the impossibility of life surviving on Venus, with its 224 mph winds and its atmosphere comprised of 96% carbon dioxide.
According to the same scientist, these numbers have no real application in the real world but should inspire people to appreciate the world they live in a lot more.
A lot of people have calculated hypothetical price tags for massive objects just for fun over the years. The Death Star from Star Wars, for example, is said to be worth $852 quadrillion, which makes it a lot more valuable than the Earth.
The value of Earth’s resources
Now, let’s go over the estimated price of the Earth’s resources. Earth’s ecosystem is estimated at about $33 trillion according to a study from 1997. Let’s start with the so-called ecosystem valuation, a process that assigns a monetary value to the Earth’s natural resources.
In an admittedly dated study from 1997, the price of the world’s ecosystem was estimated at $33 trillion. This was followed by an updated study in 2011, according to which, the ecosystem is valued a lot higher, at $125 trillion, which is close to the current GDP of the entire world. Inflation is partially to blame for this increase in the price of Earth’s ecosystem.
You might also like our article on the cost of a star.
The BBC Earth Index, published by the BBC in 2015, listed values for certain resources, coming up with a total figure of about $100.3 trillion. These figures were researched by BBC Earth with the help of Dr. Tony Juniper and the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
The cost of freshwater
The value of freshwater is one of the most interesting numbers, having an impressive price tag of $73.4 trillion, which makes it among the most valuable natural resources on our planet. Of course, this isn’t hard to understand, as everything that is alive will need water to survive, including livestock, animals, and trees, and people also need water for cooking, showering, and a lot of other daily activities.
Trees and coral reefs
The second place is held by forests and trees, which are valued at about $16.2 trillion. When it comes to coral reefs, these have a high price as well, being valued at about $10 trillion. On the downside, at the rate at which we’re destroying them, coral reefs are bound to decrease in value. Pollinators, plankton, and fish are other very valuable natural resources.
According to the same study, The study also included the value of various species based on their economic value, with polar bears valued at $6.3 billion and sharks at $944 million. National parks are also worth a lot, with the Grand Canyon valued at $711 million and Yellowstone National Park at $543.7 million.
Individual country GDPs
This article wouldn’t be complete without the world’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) value. According to Worldometers, the United States is still the country with the highest GDP having an estimated $25.46 trillion GDP. As you’d expect, China holds second place, with a GDP of $17.96 trillion.
The BBC Earth Index has some specifics on national and global industries as well. It values the world supply of oil at about $3.3 trillion, the restaurant industry in the US at $709.2 billion, coat at $36.6 billion, while the cinema industry is valued at $36.4 billion.
The World’s Money and Markets
What about the value of all of the money and markets in the world? The whole Earth valuation wouldn’t be whole without them. Jeff Desjardins who is editor-in-chief at Visual Capitalist, created a visualization that puts the current global money supply somewhere at around $90.4 trillion.
This is a number that accounts for all the physical cash in the world, including all of the banknotes and coins, time deposits, and market accounts, including savings and chequing.
The physical gold in the world is valued at about $7.7 trillion, while the Federal Reserve Balance Sheet currently sits at The world’s supply of physical gold is valued at $7.7 trillion. The Federal Reserve Balance Sheet sits at $7.95 trillion. The real estate market is valued at about $220 trillion, while the global stock market is worth $73 trillion.
World’s biggest companies
The first place when it comes to the biggest companies in the world by market cap is held by Apple, with a market cap of $7.7 trillion, followed by Microsoft, with $2.43 trillion, and Saudi Aramco with $2.15 trillion.
We can go even deeper when looking for the value of man-made resources, in some more obscure studies. For example, a study from 2014 by the CIA World Factbook talked about a gross world product with a total worth of $78.2 trillion, while adding the purchasing power parity, this number rose to $107.5 trillion. To have a better understanding, of these terms, the purchasing power parity valuations control for variations that are irrelevant in exchange rates, giving a more accurate number for the gross domestic product.
So our planet is valued at about 5 quadrillion dollars when it comes to its life sustainability capabilities. This price on the Earth isn’t meant for commercial reasons but for people to understand that the world we’re trying to protect is worth saving.