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


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