Valuing the Environment
In the discussion so far we have often referred to environmental damage and external costs. We have gone on to compare these environmental costs with the benefits of polluting activities. This implies that we can directly compare these different sorts of costs and benefits. Many will ask whether this is realistic. In order to make a comparison between things, we need to describe them in the same units. It is not possible to decide whether we have more oranges in a bowl than we have milk in a bottle. Of course, we can weigh the oranges and the milk and hence compare them both in terms of their weight, perhaps in grams. Or we could compare them in terms of their value, in units of money. If both the oranges and milk were stolen, a measure of value would be most informative in deciding which represented the more important loss.
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