Environmental Accounting: Prevention versus Recovery

When the combined cost of coal and oil extraction equals America's annual budget deficit, how do we account for the cost of prevention? Amy Larkin discusses the "environmental debt" - the coming "centerpiece of our financial troubles."

"Would you rather federal, state and local governments spend our money on preventing extreme weather in the future or on recovering from extreme weather?...Would you rather pay more for electricity, gas and mass transit infrastructure today or try to recover and rebuild from ever more extreme droughts, hurricanes and wildfires in the future?"

Interested in the fine accounting behind environmental costs to society, Amy Larkin says her questions are not rhetorical.

A 2011 Harvard University study found that the real annual costs of coal and oil extraction and combustion combined are nearly equivalent to the U.S.'s annual budget deficit of $1.1 trillion. These costs include "externalities," collateral costs paid by governments, businesses, families and healthcare providers.

Taking heed of environmental costs, global financial accounting organizations are incorporating Whole Lifecycle Analysis in their reports.

Full Story: Let's talk about environmental debt

Comments

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $199
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $14.95 a month
Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 2012

Thinking about Grad School?

You need the essential resource for prospective planning students
Starting at $24.95

City Coasters

Hand-drawn engraved maps of your favorite neighborhoods are divided up across 4 coasters making each one unique.
$36.00