To the editor:
Modern day auditors and related financial folks strive for full cost accounting of business and government operations. This builds confidence in decision making.
There are short term and long term costs to account for. Short term costs such as capital and labour are rather straight forward to quantify and track. Long term costs such as the impact of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants are less defined.
Centuries ago the long term cost of pollution was not a big deal. The human population was small and the world was a big sponge to absorb our waste. Now the human population is set to exceed eight billion. Our waste is much larger and the sponge is much smaller.
In 2019, full cost accounting must now include the long term cost of our pollution. We can now identify, quantify and track it. We can’t ignore it. No excuses left.
The challenge is how to infuse pollution costs into our accounting systems. Carbon taxes and carbon cap and trading are the two lead initiatives. Both have their flaws but the alternative being promoted by populist right wing governments and parties is to basically ignore this legitimate cost and do nothing. Or to rationalize that technology will take care of it in short order; history does not support this.
Aside from distorting basic economics, not putting a price on human pollution reduces the incentive to find solutions and to consume less. We need to price our pollution and the sooner we do it the better.