David A. Bainbridge provides a thought-provoking exploration of the need for comprehensive accounting in addressing climate change and other societal challenges. Bainbridge, with his 50-year career focusing on sustainability, presents a compelling argument for a new approach to accounting and sustainability, emphasizing the importance of acknowledging the true cost of products, practices, and decisions beyond their literal dollar value.
The book advocates for a system of accounting that includes external costs, assigns a monetary value to indirect costs, and factors in the full value of natural resources and intangible inputs. This approach, Bainbridge suggests, is essential not only for environmental implications but also for considerations of working conditions, health care, and community impact. This book can be considered dense yet coherent, skillfully transforming complex topics and data into a compelling narrative. Specific examples are provided to illustrate the concept of true costs, like comparing the costs of a conventional fast-food burger to that of a bison burger, demonstrating that costs go beyond the menu price.
Bainbridge’s work also addresses larger structural issues, such as the challenges of adopting a new accounting system. However, it offers actionable tips for individuals looking to reduce their own true costs on a smaller scale.