4/15/2005

Is Growth Bad for Environment?

Growth isn’t as bad for the environment as we may think according to a survey conducted by The Economist. The article Environmental Enemy No. 1 lists three reasons for an energy revolution. First, because recycling and treating chemical waste is energy-intensive, alternative cleaner energy should be developed. The alarming green-house effect is a long-term problem requiring a low-carbon future. Human health is the third reason. The government must provide incentives for the development of clean energy innovations. Currently government subsidies encourage the use of fossil fuels.

2 comments:

Mack said...

There is a optimum level of pollution and hurting the environment. Most environmentalists ask for "environmentally friendly" industries and products but they want someone else to pay for it.

Dr. Tufte said...

The source article here is pretty sharp, although the post distorts this a bit by being concise.

The article actually lists subsidies for dirty technologies that could be eliminated.

It also make the intelligent suggestion that the best way to spend money to clean up the environment may be to subsidize a cleanup in developing countries.

It's third point is muddled though. It recommends imposing a tax on carbon energy sources to internalize their external pollution costs. This is OK, but it ought to go hand-in-hand with a subsidy to them for the positive externalities they are associated with (for example, the fact that it saves on landfill space, as opposed to the batteries found in hybrid cars). Somehow this never seems to come up in polite company.

Then the article goes off into left field on hydrogen power. Hydrogen power is fine, but the fundamental point that articles like this make is that it doesn't pollute less - it merely moves the pollution away from the point of final use. This is just a way to create a positive externality for places like L.A. at the expense of places like Delta.