[I]n addition to the mathematical illiteracy of at least some respondents, those of us who measure such things as the value of life and health have to face a misplaced sense of righteous indignation. Some studies have shown that about 25% of people in environmental value surveys refused to answer on the grounds that “the environment has an absolute right to be protected” regardless of cost. The net effect, of course, is that those very individuals who would probably bring up the average WTP for the environment are abstaining and making the valuation smaller than it otherwise would be.
But I wonder if this sense of indignation is really a facade. Those same individuals have a choice right now to forgo any luxury, no matter how minor, to give charitable donations on behalf of protecting the environment. Right now, they could quit their jobs and work full time as volunteers for Greenpeace. And yet they do not. Their behaviors often don’t coincide with their claim of incensed morality at the very idea of the question. Some are equally resistant to the idea of placing a monetary value on a human life, but, again, they don’t give up every luxury to donate to charities related to public health.
Douglas Hubbard, How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of “Intangibles” in Business, Hoboken, 2012, 2nd ed., p. 210