chapter  4
28 Pages

Accounting for the Environment 1

ByAaron Wildavsky, Charles Lockhart, Richard M. Coughlin

The changes sought in accounting are premised on factual beliefs about the vast harms done to the natural environment and life forms of all kinds by modern technology. The importance of the David W. Pearce Report lies in its measured, informed, and sophisticated application of principles of cost-benefit analysis to environmental problems. In the sustainable universe envisaged by Pearce and his co-authors, outcomes will be such "that real incomes rise, that educational standards increase, that the health of the nation improves, that the general quality of life is advanced". Considering the practicalities, Rob Gray urges acquiescence: "Thus, given that accounting has no agreed conceptual framework and one can therefore find a theoretical justification for virtually anything—it seems politically appropriate to allow capitalization of environmental expenditures". A cleaner environment is, in a significant way, a function of economic efficiency. Democratic politics will become more conflictful and the sustainability of democracy will be cast into greater doubt.