Could accountants really solve global problems like climate change, environmental degradation, over population, and pollution? — asks Gleeson-White in her new book “Six Capitals”

The ques­tion whether accoun­tants “can save the planet” as the sub­ti­tle of the new book by Jane Gleeson-White (“Six Cap­i­tals. The rev­o­lu­tion cap­i­tal­ism has to have — or can accoun­tants save the planet?”) sug­gests, points to the core of the recent dis­cus­sion on nat­ural cap­i­tal vs. com­mod­i­fi­ca­tion of nature. It will sure pro­voke even greater dis­cus­sions. And of course, bio­di­ver­sity off­sets are some­where in between this whole dis­cus­sion. As Wil­low Aliento puts it in his very read­able book review:

Some of the mech­a­nisms for mit­i­gat­ing cor­po­rate impact are also called into ques­tions, such as bio­di­ver­sity off­set­ting. This, Gleeson-White argues, appears to be a licence to trash one place on the basis you’ll do some­thing in another, an approach that fails to recog­nise the place-based nature of habi­tats and socially impor­tant places.

But, despite this line of argu­men­ta­tion that seems to counter the con­cept of bio­di­ver­sity off­sets in gen­eral, the books gives voice to dif­fer­ent viewpoints:

One of the joys of the book is the wide-ranging research and inter­views Gleeson-White has under­taken. There are some fab­u­lous din­ner table debate starters from peo­ple like George Mon­biot, Bob Massie, banker Pavan Sukhdev and even Keynes him­self, and enough inter­est­ing leads towards fur­ther read­ing, groups worth engag­ing with and peo­ple worth lis­ten­ing to keep any­one inter­ested in the busi­ness of sus­tain­abil­ity feel­ing hopeful.

Gen­eral infor­ma­tion on the book

The book is out since Novem­ber, find some gen­eral infor­ma­tion fol­low­ing and the offi­cial book descrip­tion below.

ISBN: 9781743319161
Pub­lisher: Allen & Unwin

Book Descrip­tion

This is the story of a 21st cen­tury rev­o­lu­tion being led by the most unlikely of rebels: accountants.

It is only the sec­ond rev­o­lu­tion in account­ing since double-entry book­keep­ing emerged in medieval Italy — and it is of seis­mic pro­por­tions, dri­ven by the 2008 finan­cial crash and the envi­ron­men­tal cri­sis. The changes it will wreak are pro­found and far-reaching. They will trans­form not only the way the world does busi­ness but alter the very nature of cor­po­rate capitalism.

The accounts of nations and cor­po­ra­tions are vital to the 21st cen­tury global econ­omy. They trans­late value into the lan­guage of mod­ern times — num­bers and money — in the shape of GDP and profit fig­ures. They rule the world. But increas­ingly the world is com­ing to realise that the seem­ingly end­less growth that cap­i­tal offers us is in fact lim­ited by the earth’s resources and comes at a huge price to the planet and our own well­be­ing. It sim­ply can­not be sustained.

This rev­o­lu­tion demands that we start account­ing for nature and soci­ety. It urges us to rethink our idea of cap­i­tal, insist­ing that the famil­iar cat­e­gories of indus­trial and finan­cial cap­i­tal bequeathed by the mer­can­tile and indus­trial ages be broad­ened to include four new cat­e­gories of wealth: intel­lec­tual, human, social and nat­ural. Incor­po­rat­ing them into our finan­cial state­ments and GDP fig­ures could be the only way to address the many crises we face today.

Just two years ago this rev­o­lu­tion seemed ide­al­is­tic and unlikely. Today it is unfold­ing at speed. 2012 was the sea-change year, in which two key ini­tia­tives took root: an inter­na­tional move­ment to trans­form cor­po­rate account­ing, and the rise of nat­ural cap­i­tal account­ing for nations and the global econ­omy. Six Cap­i­tals tells the story of their rise to promi­nence, which sig­nals a new age in cap­i­tal­ism, and eval­u­ates their promise — and their threat.

The rev­o­lu­tion is here. But will we embrace its poten­tial or deny its urgency? Can accoun­tants save the planet — or will we destroy it for future generations?

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