Speaking of the Wall Street Journal, the co-founders of Generation Investment Management — Al Gore and David Blood (Blood and Gore!) — have a commentary therein neatly summarizing the case for integrating social, moral, and environmental concerns into the market. They even use the WSJ’s favored dry, technical business-speak to do it. It begins thusly:
Capitalism and sustainability are deeply and increasingly interrelated. After all, our economic activity is based on the use of natural and human resources. Not until we more broadly “price in” the external costs of investment decisions across all sectors will we have a sustainable economy and society.
The industrial revolution brought enormous prosperity, but it also introduced unsustainable business practices. Our current system for accounting was principally established in the 1930s by Lord Keynes and the creation of “national accounts” (the backbone of today’s gross domestic product). While this system was precise in its ability to account for capital goods, it was imprecise in its ability to account for natural and human resources because it assumed them to be limitless. This, in part, explains why our current model of economic development is hard-wired to externalize as many costs as possible.
It’s behind a subscription wall, but if you’d like to read (almost) the whole thing, I direct you (and any visiting WSJ lawyers) to Environmental Economics.