Sustainability is impossible until companies admit environmental cost

While companies’ impact on the environment remains ignored the quesiton of how society deals with the consequence of this damage will remain unanswered.

On holiday recently, I visited the Japanese sacred area of Kumano Kodo. Miles of treks mark pilgrim routes from the ancient capital of Kyoto to a number of shrines located around the Wakayama peninsula.

We were walking on a high ridge and stopped to look and to listen to the forest sounds – bird song, a variety of insect noises and large butterflies.

But something was strange. The sound was coming at us in mono not in stereo. One side of the ridge fell off steeply. The forest was lush, varied and full of animal and insect life. It was from this side that the cacophony of sound was coming. The other side of the ridge was less steep and had been commercially exploited as a wood plantation: a monoculture of pine trees. No or very little life other than the pine trees themselves could survive here.

By some standards, the pine plantations can be considered “sustainable”. They are well managed, re-planting takes place and the soil is maintained in good condition. But what of the vast amount of other life that has been driven out and destroyed in the process of turning whole mountain ranges into managed forests? Who bears the cost of that? The management of “externalities” – as such damage is un-emotionally labelled by economists – has proven to be one of the most intractable issues in moving towards sustainability.
— Full Story at The Guardian

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