Monetized Risk

Quantifying potential consequences with a common scale can be challenging. Using a measure such as cost—the monetized loss associated with the damages—forces some difficult judgments to be made among various receptor damages. For example, not only must a value be assigned to a statistical human life, but also to various injury types, environmental damage, damage to or extinction of a threatened and endangered species, historical sites, pristine areas, irreparable contamination of a recreational or drinking water source, and any other potential consequence. Some of these valuations involve socio-political and moral/ethical considerations that vary greatly among different cultures, decision-makers, and even over time. Monetizing all potential loss is therefore controversial. However, the ability to express risk in monetary terms is a great advantage in many applications. It is a universally understood ‘common denominator’ of all loss potential and its use as a measure of risk is quite compelling and becoming more common.