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#1
06-08-2016, 03:50 AM
 Jim B. Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2002 Posts: 1,688
How Much Is the Earth Worth?

Some alien from another planet far far away wants to buy the earth. All of it. How much is the earth worth?

Think about my question carefully. If you take all the gold mines, and all the platinum mines, and all the coal mines. And for that matter if you take all the dirt and all the clay--and consider the iron core too, and mantle, which we presently can't even get to. How much in the earth worth IN TOTAL? And has anyone ever even tried to calculate it?

Don't let my question throw you, though, if you are not entirely certain yourself. I would love hearing some creative responses to my question too.

Thank you to all who reply
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#2
06-08-2016, 04:00 AM
 Jragon Guest Join Date: Mar 2007 Location: Miskatonic University Posts: 10,269
Hmm... it's a tricky question because you can't really go with market value since things like diamonds are pricey due to rather artificial limitations.

If our aliens had the whole earth, suddenly diamonds would be way less valuable.

But then, we'd also get into the insanity of assigning inherent worth to other precious metals, especially since some minerals are more common in space.

I assume you just want the ballpark of the market value of gold times the total amount plus iron plus platinum etc?
#3
06-08-2016, 04:10 AM
 Alessan Guest Join Date: Jul 2000 Location: Tel Aviv Posts: 22,422
Iron ore is about \$60 per metric ton.

The Earth is about 33% iron.

The math is a bit beyond me, but I suspect that everything else has basically negligible value, relatively speaking.
#4
06-08-2016, 04:10 AM
 Jim B. Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2002 Posts: 1,688
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Jragon I assume you just want the ballpark of the market value of gold times the total amount plus iron plus platinum etc?
I just want how much the earth is worth in general terms. In other words now, without anticipating how owning the whole earth will affect any market.

I also am basically asking how much the earth would be worth in human economics. The alien joke was just for perspective.
#5
06-08-2016, 04:22 AM
 The Niply Elder Guest Join Date: Dec 2010 Posts: 772
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Jim B. I also am basically asking how much the earth would be worth in human economics.
everything
#6
06-08-2016, 04:25 AM
 panache45 Member Join Date: Oct 2000 Location: NE Ohio (the 'burbs) Posts: 39,366
Something's worth presupposes the question "to whom?" How much it's worth to us could be very different than how much it's worth to an alien. And we'd have to take into account for what purpose the alien wants the planet. My personal answer would be "Priceless."
#7
06-08-2016, 04:27 AM
 Alessan Guest Join Date: Jul 2000 Location: Tel Aviv Posts: 22,422
OK, so according to this, the total value of the world's real estate is \$217 trillion, which constitutes 60% of all of the world's assets. That means that the total value of all of the world's assets - meaning wealth humans have access to - is \$362 trillion.

That's still negligible the value of the iron in the earth's core and mantle, which I calculate at around \$120,000 trillion - (5972 X 60)/3.
#8
06-08-2016, 04:33 AM
 Alessan Guest Join Date: Jul 2000 Location: Tel Aviv Posts: 22,422
OK, so according to this, the total value of the world's real estate is \$217 trillion, which constitutes 60% of all of the world's assets. That means that the total value of all of the world's assets - meaning wealth humans have access to - is \$362 trillion.

That's still negligible the value of the iron in the earth's core and mantle, which I calculate at around \$120,000 trillion - (5972 X 60)/3.
#9
06-08-2016, 04:40 AM
 Isilder Guest Join Date: Mar 2013 Posts: 4,194
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Alessan Iron ore is about \$60 per metric ton. The Earth is about 33% iron. The math is a bit beyond me, but I suspect that everything else has basically negligible value, relatively speaking.
Thats using our values, which are only affected if aliens also SELL us stuff. Well they will sell us something, because money just represents a promise to supply value.. somehow.. , but then the question can't be answered ..

So the question I can answer , is would iron be something they want to buy ?
If so, they'd want to buy silicate too. And there's SO MUCH MORE silicate than iron on earth, so earths value in silicon surely totally eclipses its iron value.

But I suspect iron and silicate are easily obtained without going to the expensive of dropping down into earths gravity well AND paying for it. Asteroids contain silicate AND iron, in about the same amounts, so actually its as easy as that.. go mine an asteroid.

The rare elements in the universe are rare on earth too.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abunda...dance-bars.svg

So the odd elements from 45, and all from 60, except lead..
The pattern in the abundance of the odds and evens is interesting hey !

In that graph, where there is no element label, its radioactive badly enough its not really existent to sell. (43 , 61 and starting from 83 except Thorium and Uranium.)

Last edited by Isilder; 06-08-2016 at 04:44 AM.
#10
06-08-2016, 04:42 AM
 The Niply Elder Guest Join Date: Dec 2010 Posts: 772
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Alessan OK, so according to this, the total value of the world's real estate is \$217 trillion, which constitutes 60% of all of the world's assets. That means that the total value of all of the world's assets - meaning wealth humans have access to - is \$362 trillion. That's still negligible the value of the iron in the earth's core and mantle, which I calculate at around \$120,000 trillion - (5972 X 60)/3.
Economic analyses like this are nonsensical because they violate the first rule of economics: supply and demand. The worth of anything is dictated by the highest bidders. So there would have to be multiple alien civilizations bidding for the purchase of our planets total intrinsic, intellectual, real, future, expected worth. It is not an amount that can cleanly be extrapolated based on current commodity prices. The earth's total value would be worth slightly less than the alien civilization's military industrial complex, assuming the alien civilization's military brass are adherents of Sun Tsu. If they're not, then everything I said is out of the question.
#11
06-08-2016, 04:47 AM
 Isilder Guest Join Date: Mar 2013 Posts: 4,194
BTW, asteroids really are an easy source of iron.

here's some swords made from asteroids (meteorites on earth.)

http://www.ripleys.com/blog/meteorite-swords/

Its been shown that the story is true, the trace elements eg radioactives .. match meteorite.

Last edited by Isilder; 06-08-2016 at 04:49 AM.
#12
06-08-2016, 04:49 AM
 Alessan Guest Join Date: Jul 2000 Location: Tel Aviv Posts: 22,422
Quote:
 Originally Posted by The Niply Elder Economic analyses like this are nonsensical because they violate the first rule of economics: supply and demand. The worth of anything is dictated by the highest bidders.
I know - I'm just trying to adhere to the terms of the OP. Don't fight the hypothetical and all that.
#13
06-08-2016, 06:55 AM
 Chronos Charter Member Moderator Join Date: Jan 2000 Location: The Land of Cleves Posts: 73,110
Quote:
 Quoth Isilder: The pattern in the abundance of the odds and evens is interesting hey !
That's one of the few things in nuclear chemistry that's easily understandable. Protons and neutrons are fermions, which means (among other things) that they're subject to the Pauli Exclusion Principle: No two of the same kind can be in the same state at the same time. Now, the state of particles in a nucleus is a very complicated thing, and depends on the presence and arrangement of all of the other particles in the nucleus, but there's one part of it that's simple: Each particle has its own little bit of state called "spin", which can have one of two different values (conventionally called "up" and "down"). So whatever the arrangement of other particles, if you have room for one proton, in, say the spin-up state, then you have room for another spin-down proton. Or in other words, if an odd number of protons is stable, then the next one after it almost certainly is, too, but the reverse is not necessarily true. So even-numbered elements tend to be more common than odd-numbered elements. If you looked at the common isotopes, then you'd find that the same is true for numbers of neutrons.

This is especially the case for helium, which has exactly two protons and two neutrons. All of the particles are in the ground state in the nucleus, because there's room for them all to be in the ground state, so in that case, the state actually is simple. In fact, the helium nucleus is stable for exactly the same reason that its electrons are stable (making it chemically unreactive), because there's two electrons, too.
#14
06-08-2016, 07:39 AM
 Riemann Guest Join Date: Nov 2015 Location: Santa Fe, NM, USA Posts: 3,574
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Isilder The pattern in the abundance of the odds and evens is interesting hey !
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Chronos That's one of the few things in nuclear chemistry that's easily understandable....
Astonishing that this is called the Oddo-Harkins rule, after one Giuseppe Oddo.
If only William Harkins had been called William Evans.

Last edited by Riemann; 06-08-2016 at 07:41 AM.
#15
06-08-2016, 07:41 AM
 naita Guest Join Date: Jun 2002 Location: Norway Posts: 4,899
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Jim B. I just want how much the earth is worth in general terms. In other words now, without anticipating how owning the whole earth will affect any market. I also am basically asking how much the earth would be worth in human economics. The alien joke was just for perspective.
When valuing the iron, are we to compare it to easily extractable sources? Price it as iron ore? Price the core as pure nickel? What about the minerals of the mantle? I'm sure some of them would be valuable, but how do we price them? How about we just assume it's all worth something possibly average and multiply it by the weight of the whole globe?

I'm going to say it's worth \$ 100 per ton on average. There is 6*1024 kg of it. That's \$ 6*1023. You can refine this but no other result will be more meaningful.
#16
06-08-2016, 08:09 AM
 obbn Guest Join Date: May 2011 Location: Orlando, Florida Posts: 2,352
I'd buy that for a dollar!
#17
06-08-2016, 08:49 AM
 Boyo Jim Member Join Date: Nov 2001 Location: Madison, WI Posts: 36,997
The only reason I don't buy the whole Earth is that I can't figure out how to evict everyone. You'd all be a bunch of damn squatters!
#18
06-08-2016, 09:34 AM
 Xema Guest Join Date: Mar 2002 Posts: 11,570
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Boyo Jim The only reason I don't buy the whole Earth is that I can't figure out how to evict everyone.
This problem was neatly solved in the first few pages of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - though admittedly in a way that would tend to reduce the value of your investment.
#19
06-08-2016, 10:52 AM
 beowulff Member Join Date: May 2001 Location: Scottsdale, more-or-less Posts: 14,960
#20
06-08-2016, 10:54 AM
 Leo Bloom Member Join Date: Jun 2009 Location: Here Posts: 11,579
[Inevitable hijack]
All right, then: What could we sell to Space Aliens for the most money?

Since the OP boils down to value.

Also, it's a question of shopping time and impulse buying.

I so want to make this hijack an independent OP/thread, but _even I_ realize it is too speculative for a GQ thread.
#21
06-08-2016, 11:10 AM
 watchwolf49 Guest Join Date: Dec 2009 Location: State of Jefferson Posts: 7,610
I'm not afraid of making wild speculations in GQ ...

The most valuable commodity on Earth are the human slaves, say an average of a million Woolongs each that comes out to 7 quotillion ... that should buy a manor on Altair 4.
#22
06-08-2016, 11:11 AM
 levdrakon Guest Join Date: Apr 2002 Location: USA Posts: 17,348
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Leo Bloom [Inevitable hijack] All right, then: What could we sell to Space Aliens for the most money? Since the OP boils down to value. Also, it's a question of shopping time and impulse buying. I so want to make this hijack an independent OP/thread, but _even I_ realize it is too speculative for a GQ thread.
I would think the only thing unique to Earth would be it's biology. Our DNA and all the chemicals it can create might be worth something. All the basic elements are so easily gotten from asteroids we probably couldn't give away the planet.
#23
06-08-2016, 11:21 AM
 Blue Blistering Barnacle Guest Join Date: Dec 2011 Posts: 4,977
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Xema This problem was neatly solved in the first few pages of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - though admittedly in a way that would tend to reduce the value of your investment.
Actually, it increases the value (assuming hyperspace bypasses are valuable).
#24
06-08-2016, 11:46 AM
 leahcim Member Join Date: Dec 2010 Location: Boulder, CO Posts: 3,484
Quote:
 Originally Posted by The Niply Elder The worth of anything is dictated by the highest bidders.
Well, really, the worth of anything is dictated by the second highest bidder. Once the highest bidder outbids them by even a trivial amount, they don't have to bid any higher.

Assuming the second-highest bidder is "humanity", at the aliens' legal system recognizes some kind of "aboriginal title" to even the parts of the Earth (like the mantle) we are not currently actively using, then the value of the Earth is the price that humanity would require to be enticed to sell.

Maybe the aliens just want the Earth as an investment property, and humanity wouldn't even have to relocate -- just sign a lease and start paying rent. A good rental property should make back its investment in 20 years so a good price would be 20 times humanity's annual rent.
#25
06-08-2016, 11:51 AM
 SmartAlecCat Guest Join Date: Apr 2009 Posts: 1,097
I realize the OP focused on the material, but honestly there is a lot of physical stuff out there (and when I say 'a lot', I mean a lot.) Taking into account scarcity, the value of that stuff is practically 0.

Now consider if there were an alien that valued the intellectual property produced by the Earth -- every song, play, book, etc. Those things could have a considerably higher value to another civilization, even if it is trivial for them to harvest gold/diamonds/etc. from some other planet.
#26
06-08-2016, 11:59 AM
 leahcim Member Join Date: Dec 2010 Location: Boulder, CO Posts: 3,484
Quote:
 Originally Posted by watchwolf49 The most valuable commodity on Earth are the human slaves...
I would think that any civilization capable of space travel would also be capable of a level of industrial automation that makes flesh-and-blood slaves particularly valueless.
#27
06-08-2016, 12:01 PM
 beowulff Member Join Date: May 2001 Location: Scottsdale, more-or-less Posts: 14,960
Quote:
 Originally Posted by SmartAlecCat I realize the OP focused on the material, but honestly there is a lot of physical stuff out there (and when I say 'a lot', I mean a lot.) Taking into account scarcity, the value of that stuff is practically 0. Now consider if there were an alien that valued the intellectual property produced by the Earth -- every song, play, book, etc. Those things could have a considerably higher value to another civilization, even if it is trivial for them to harvest gold/diamonds/etc. from some other planet.
Just think how valuable DNA is.
Assimilating Our Culture.
#28
06-08-2016, 12:24 PM
 watchwolf49 Guest Join Date: Dec 2009 Location: State of Jefferson Posts: 7,610
Quote:
 Originally Posted by leahcim I would think that any civilization capable of space travel would also be capable of a level of industrial automation that makes flesh-and-blood slaves particularly valueless.
Sure, and by that logic everything on Earth is valueless ... even things that are naturally rare can be spun out of a cyclotron. Then the question is why would aliens even bother to come here?

Last edited by watchwolf49; 06-08-2016 at 12:25 PM.
#29
06-08-2016, 01:06 PM
 Biffy the Elephant Shrew Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2002 Location: Over on the left Posts: 13,186
If only David Bowie were still around, he could tell us.
#30
06-08-2016, 01:18 PM
 Lemur866 Charter Member Join Date: Jul 2000 Location: The Middle of Puget Sound Posts: 21,050
Quote:
 Originally Posted by leahcim Well, really, the worth of anything is dictated by the second highest bidder. Once the highest bidder outbids them by even a trivial amount, they don't have to bid any higher. Assuming the second-highest bidder is "humanity", at the aliens' legal system recognizes some kind of "aboriginal title" to even the parts of the Earth (like the mantle) we are not currently actively using, then the value of the Earth is the price that humanity would require to be enticed to sell. Maybe the aliens just want the Earth as an investment property, and humanity wouldn't even have to relocate -- just sign a lease and start paying rent. A good rental property should make back its investment in 20 years so a good price would be 20 times humanity's annual rent.
Right, but just because you could sell your house for a lot of money doesn't mean it's a good idea to sell your house. You'd have to look at what other housing you could afford after you sold your house. So what are comparable rents in the galaxy? We'd have a pretty large amount of capital, but what good will it do us if we spend it all in 20 years on renting Tau Ceti IV? If we invested the capital and tried to pay rent without touching the capital, what sort of accomodations could we purchase? And what about transportation--doesn't do us much good if we could rent Tau Ceti IV for 37 million Qatloos, when it would cost us 970 million Qatloos to transport all of humanity there.

So we're kind of like people who own an expensive house in San Francisco. Sure we could sell it, but we'd have to move, and purchasing/renting a comparable property just puts us right back where we are now. The only way to cash out is to move to a less expensive market. How are the Magellanic Clouds looking these days?
#31
06-08-2016, 01:21 PM
 Anny Middon Guest Join Date: Oct 2012 Posts: 766
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Boyo Jim The only reason I don't buy the whole Earth is that I can't figure out how to evict everyone. You'd all be a bunch of damn squatters!
First, you build an identical world. Then you supply a ladder that runs between the worlds. Finally, you offer free T-shirts to anyone who goes to the fake Earth. Naturally, everyone takes you up on your offer.

Finally, Brain, you and Pinky have taken over the world!
#32
06-08-2016, 03:17 PM
 leahcim Member Join Date: Dec 2010 Location: Boulder, CO Posts: 3,484
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Lemur866 Right, but just because you could sell your house for a lot of money doesn't mean it's a good idea to sell your house.
But for every situation, there is some amount of money (or some kind of remuneration) at which it becomes a good idea to sell your house. You just have to figure out what that is and whether that is more or less than what the aliens are offering.
#33
06-08-2016, 03:27 PM
 Lemur866 Charter Member Join Date: Jul 2000 Location: The Middle of Puget Sound Posts: 21,050

Quote:
 Maybe the aliens just want the Earth as an investment property, and humanity wouldn't even have to relocate -- just sign a lease and start paying rent. A good rental property should make back its investment in 20 years so a good price would be 20 times humanity's annual rent.
This is essentially taking out a reverse mortgage on the Earth, yes? But a reverse mortgage only makes sense if you're planning on dying before the terms of the mortgage expire. Selling your house to someone and renting it back from them only makes sense if you need the capital now for some other expense. But let's face it, humans are going to be pretty naive intergalactic investors, and the odds that we'll be able to get a more productive investment than the Earth are pretty low due to the information asymmetry we'd be dealing with.
#34
06-08-2016, 03:32 PM
 purplehearingaid Guest Join Date: Feb 2015 Posts: 1,790
What about all seafood in the ocean and trees etc everything on the earth has a value to it.
#35
06-08-2016, 04:30 PM
 Asympotically fat Guest Join Date: Jan 2008 Posts: 3,032
£75.12s.5d
#36
06-08-2016, 06:57 PM
 Trinopus Member Join Date: Dec 2002 Location: San Diego, CA Posts: 22,851
The affair is described, although mostly poetically, in the science fiction novel Norstrilia, by Cordwainer Smith. Rod McBan buys the earth...

But, in the story, he buys it with the assistance of an economics warfare computer, a system designed to use financial tools to harm an enemy's economy. In the story, the process is extremely complex, involving hugely intricate manipulations, a parlay of dependent investments, timed so that each purchase or sale affects the market, so that downstream purchases or investments will all cascade to the desired result.

In real life, you know the guy who had a paperclip, and kept trading it for other things that were slightly more valuable? He ended up with a house.

So...in practice, we have a house that is "worth" a paperclip. The earth might be purchased for one sick sheep. Ya never know.
#37
06-08-2016, 09:00 PM
 SigMan Guest Join Date: Aug 2015 Location: Texas Posts: 673
It's yours for \$39.95 plus tax.
#38
06-08-2016, 11:50 PM
 dtilque Charter Member Join Date: Jan 2000 Location: My own private Nogero Posts: 5,554
Don't sell, anyone! The aliens know about some dilithium crystal deposits that we're unaware of...
#39
06-09-2016, 07:42 AM
 mr wolf Guest Join Date: Jun 2014 Posts: 129
Quote:
 Originally Posted by The Niply Elder everything

Brilliant!
#40
06-09-2016, 06:10 PM
 Common Tater Guest Join Date: Jul 2006 Posts: 1,855
Thing is, I'm not sure if it's real or not. Is it OK if I bring in an expert to take a look at it?
#41
06-10-2016, 04:36 AM
 eburacum45 Guest Join Date: Feb 2003 Location: Old York Posts: 2,570
Quote:
 Originally Posted by levdrakon I would think the only thing unique to Earth would be it's biology. Our DNA and all the chemicals it can create might be worth something. All the basic elements are so easily gotten from asteroids we probably couldn't give away the planet.
This. There are maybe a hundred billion planets with about the same composition as Earth in our galaxy alone; if you just want the raw materials, it would be easier to mine asteroids and comets. But there is only one biosphere that is exactly like Earth's in the entire visible universe. Our ball of rock and iron only has special worth as a physical support system for the biosphere. and for the cultures that depend on it.
(it may be that our cultures and products of those cultures may be even more valuable than out biosphere in some alien markets).
#42
06-10-2016, 11:44 AM
 Lemur866 Charter Member Join Date: Jul 2000 Location: The Middle of Puget Sound Posts: 21,050
Or it might have negative value to those aliens. Berserkers might destroy us because they hate all life, or all life that isn't their species.
#43
06-10-2016, 04:30 PM
 Mangetout Charter Member Join Date: May 2001 Location: England Posts: 56,737
Isn't there going to be a good amount of gold in the core too? Heavy stuff sinks, right?
#44
06-10-2016, 04:59 PM
 eburacum45 Guest Join Date: Feb 2003 Location: Old York Posts: 2,570
Gold should be present in the core, not just because it is heavy, but because it is a siderophile element, soluble in iron
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldsc...phile_elements
#45
06-10-2016, 05:02 PM
 eburacum45 Guest Join Date: Feb 2003 Location: Old York Posts: 2,570
On the other hand, the heavy element uranium is a lithophile, and lead is a chalcophile, so both of those should be found in the crust rather than the core.
#46
06-12-2016, 12:59 AM
 Jim B. Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2002 Posts: 1,688
I don't know if it is too late to add this. But you know, this would be an excellent question for Cecil Adams. Here, just insert this:

[Dear Cecil:]

[Jim B.]
#47
06-12-2016, 01:08 AM
 levdrakon Guest Join Date: Apr 2002 Location: USA Posts: 17,348
Cecil will wiffle waffle and it will eventually turn out he had a side deal going with the Alpha Centurians.

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