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Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 30 -- Environment and Economy.


In general we need to confront our myth of the economy undercutting the environment. We have grown to believe that we are faced with an inescapable choice between higher economic welfare and a greener environment. But surprisingly... environmental development often stems from economic development – only when we get sufficiently rich can we afford the relative luxury of caring about the environment. On its most general level, this conclusion is evident in Figure 9, where higher income in general is correlated with higher environmental sustainability.

Figure 9:
Click for original .pdf (graph on page 31).

Source: The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World, written by former Greenpeace activist Bjorn Lomborg.

The Economist magazine believes the environmental movement could find its way once again if it becomes less reflexively hostile toward business. Indeed, it should embrace market forces in environmental initiatives:

“THE environmental movement's foundational concepts, its method for framing legislative proposals, and its very institutions are outmoded. Today environmentalism is just another special interest.” Those damning words come not from any industry lobby or right-wing think-tank. They are drawn from “The Death of Environmentalism”, an influential essay published recently by two greens with impeccable credentials. They claim that environmental groups are politically adrift and dreadfully out of touch.

Environmentalism is an important part of being good citizens. The Boy Scout slogan about leaving a place better than you found it is an important one. But the modern environmental movement needs to drop the anti-business hyperbole and start getting real about reasonable solutions that don't harm economic growth (growth which actually helps the environment).

Previous trivia tidbits:

Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9; Part 10; Part 11; Part 12; Part 13; Part 14; Part 15; Part 16; Part 17; Part 18; Part 19; Part 20; Part 21, Part 22; Part 23, Part 24, Part 25; Part 26; Part 27, Part 28; Part 29.

Daily Trivia Tidbits cover a wide range of topics; you never know what you might find. Stay tuned to WILLisms.com for more.

Posted by Will Franklin · 28 April 2005 01:00 PM


While economic growth is important, profit should not be the sole driving force of any society. As such, environmental concerns are important issues that impact the well being of our future efficacy as a species.

That said, I agree with the premise that the two can and should coexist in a reasonable way. But unless our environmental concerns are brought under control, all talk of greater economic development may be moot. We may just find ourselves sitting out in the cold.

Posted by: ken grandlund at April 28, 2005 02:35 PM

Almost by definition a rich society has more power than a poor one. The wealthy may improve the environment or damage it. Poverty removes options and above some population level things will certainly deteriorate.

As people become richer their focus changes from survival to perfecting.* And improving the environment is one aspect of perfecting.

So expect a rich society to buy a fine environment just as they buy quality goods.

*We know that perfection will not be reached. All will age, itch, stumble. Flaws can be found in any palace or garden or designer dress. Perhaps a better word perfecting is "refining."

Posted by: Ken at April 28, 2005 03:02 PM