I have been in something of a theme with my current reading and when you are keenly aware of a topic it is hard not to notice an aggregation and honing of ideas starting to happen both within me and in the world at large. And since it is Blog Action Day and the both the topic of this year’s action and the one I have been immersed in are the environment, a post seems in order. I have been meaning to post on several environmental topics recently but now these will all just be jumbled into this one post.
When a majestic, 300-year-old red-wood is cut down and turned into picnic tables, the logging and picnic table-building activities add to the gross domestic product (GDP), while no deduction is made for the loss of that tree and all the nonmarket services it provides. When a paper mill dumps dioxin-laden wastes into a river, the paper-making boosts the GDP, but no deduction is made for the costs associated with the water pollution. Conversely, no addition is made to the GDP for the air and water cleaned by wetlands or old-growth forests.
It is long overdue that we start accounting for non-monetary assets in the way described.
In San Francisco, the municipal water comes from inside Yosemite National Park. It’s so good the EPA doesn’t require San Francisco to filter it. If you bought and drank a bottle of Evian, you could refill that bottle once a day for 10 years, 5 months, and 21 days with San Francisco tap water before that water would cost $1.35. Put another way, if the water we use at home cost what even cheap bottled water costs, our monthly water bills would run $9,000.
We do quite a lot in this country to make sure we have potable drinking water in every home, we pay for the infrastructure in taxes and when we build our homes. Why not make use of this resource and forgo the petroleum-based container variety?