Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Real Cost of Doing Business

The other day I went to what is called the "Mall" on campus - it is mostly restaurants. After I got there I noticed that there the pest control company that was spraying pesticide. And in one place, just outside a restaurant door one worker had spilt some pesticide and basically ignoring the spill. I decided not to eat supper there and left going around the outside. When leaving outside, near the back, I noticed the smell of rotten garbage.

Two things immediately came into my head. First was if they would simply clean the area outside, they probably wouldn't need to use pesticide. The second, which is the thrust of this article, is that this was a perfect example of how today's economics is bad for the environment.

What I am talking about is the fact that actually hiring a company to spray potentially toxic chemicals (pesticides) instead of using preventive measures (keeping the area clean) is better for the economy. At least using the current methods we use to measure it. That is, we mesure the output (goods and services) and not the costs.

To reinforce this idea, last month there was a report which said if we take the real costs of coal in terms of health, environment, and economics that the price of coal would be two to three times what is today.

As I hinted to in the previous article, I truly believe that we cannot solve our global warming problems without some radical changes. Changing the measurement of our national accounts would be a start.

I asked my students about which solution the would do for global warming (nothing, more research, preemptive action, or radical change). All of those who picked radical change said changes such as more renewable energy -- not what I call radical (important, but not radical). I wonder if this is due to the onslaught of propaganda from the big business/neo-liberal lobby.

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