In Green Economy: Confronting the Ecological Crisis, the political economist Robin Hahnel says of cost-benefit analysis that if it were possible to accurately estimate the true costs and benefits of our activities we would still be making a value judgment in that we must make a judgment on whether the costs of an activity outweighs the benefits or not.
In this day of climate change, BP oil spills, and Fukushima nuclear accidents such a judgment is sorely needed for offshore drilling, fracking, solar and nuclear power.
About forty miles from me in Kennedale is the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the chance of an earthquake that could damage the reactor is 1 in 250,000. Here in Texas we have a lotto jackpot where the odds of winning it are 1 in 25,000,000. For many of us we are 100 times more likely to experience a nuclear meltdown than win the lottery.
Meanwhile, MIT, with a fraction of what oil companies get in tax breaks each year, has created a solar leaf that, with a gallon of water, can provide enough energy to a home for nearly two days.