We live on a generous planet. Nature provides all sorts of services to us that we don't pay for, and often take for granted.
Some of these ecosystem services are easy to spot. Nature does a great job of cleaning air and water. The water that flows through hydroelectric dams is the same water that evaporated from the oceans and flew through the sky to get back to the watershed. It finds its way back into the rivers, and we can turn it into electricity again. Nobody paid to pump it back up the hill. The water also managed to irrigate the areas on which it fell, for free, without any human infrastructure. It would cost us a lot to water the forests.
Clean water flowing in nature seems free, but if we had to replace it with water we cleaned ourselves it would be far more expensive. For example, when New York was dealing with water quality issues it faced the prospect of a $6-8 billion water filtration plant. They opted instead to spend $1-1.5 billion cleaning up the watershed. This gave them the clean water they needed and saved $4.5 - 7 billion. Plus, they saved the $300 million annually that they would have spent operating the water treatment plant.
Here in Canada, the temperature does a good job of helping to control pests. Cold winters make this part of the world unsuitable for some of the nastier bugs. This protects us from the disease tropical bugs can spread. As global temperature rises, we start to lose this defense.
Imagine how much it would cost to have crops manually pollinated. The bees do it for free. They may seem like pests, but they're an integral part of our food chain. A healthy ecosystem provides these services at no charge.
At least, you don't have to pay for them. You see, nature doesn't care about the money. It's not worried about its quarterly profit and loss statements. It would be satisfied with a little respect and appreciation from us, because for nature, maximizing shareholder value means maintaining the system that cares for every living thing. That includes the people, but not just the people.
It's easy to take for granted how much nature does for us. Ecological services are irreplaceable, and the system provides the basis for continued life on this planet. The bill isn't coming in the mail, but if we don't take care of the system that takes care of us, we'll end up in ecological bankruptcy. That's the sort that can't be fixed by any bailout.