During the past decade or so, there has been increasing concern in Canada over environmental deterioration, especially with regard to air and water pollution. With increasing affluence, higher standard of living and higher levels of education, public perception of environmental problems, and their attitudes thereto, have significantly changed, and are also continually changing. Hence, the society as a whole no longer willy-nilly accepts the concept that the increase in economic indices line Gross National Product or per capita income, both in real terms, are the sole criteria of progress, and nor is it willing to accept the continuation of the use of economic analyses like benefit-cost ratio or cost-effectiveness as the only basis for project approval. The standard economic indices or analyses cannot handle intangible values which significantly contribute to the enrichment of our quality of life. The concern here is with all those components of environmental appreciation, entailing either observation or physical exploitation, which are not directly quantifiable, or if quantifiable, cannot be valued by market mechanism. The net social or ‘psychic’ income from resource use in this sense, extends beyond the concept of secondary benefits, and includes psychic and indirect monetary benefits to the user and ultimately to the society as a whole.
By Asit K. Biswas, 1976. Article published in Journal of Hydrology, Volume 28, pages 393-406.