Re: >H ENVIR:Is the planet really dying?

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Mon Jul 02 2001 - 00:57:35 MDT

On Sun, 1 Jul 2001, Chris Hibbert wrote:

> Sometimes these laws achieved their effects by outright prohibition, but
> the more effective of them were designed to reduce the impact of
> externalities on third parties.

Yes, the focus should be to identify the costs of the externalities
and make them be paid for up front. A more advanced analysis would
include estimates of technological progress and determine whether
paying for them later would actually be less expensive. The actual
cost of paying for them now or later has to be balanced with
the impact on humanity (and the potential loss of life).

> If you read Julian Simon's "The Ultimate Resource 2", you'll see lots of
> arguments that many of these changes would likely have come about
> without infringing on anyone's freedom. One of Simon's arguments is
> that as societies get richer, industry develops technologies that use
> ever more of the inputs effectively, and that side effects are mitigated
> because companies find it more cost effective to reuse and recycle.i

The development of these technologies is predictable so long as competition
exists. However, there may be investment & profit barriers to implementing
the technologies (wind & solar power come to mind). Since the cost of
technologies may scale inversely with demand, then the imposition of
freedom violating regulations or laws may be necessary to get over
the barrier to the production of low-cost technologies that can be
used by everyone. [The needs of the many outweigh the needs of
the few, or the one???]

> Another driver is that the public wants a cleaner environment for lots
> of reasons, and finds ways to encourage their neighbors to not mess up
> the neighborhood.

This is the "art of the long view" -- it only comes when people collectively
begin to realize that *they* may have to pay for the mess they are creating.
So long as you "know" you are going to be dead in 100 years, it is in one's
[did I get that apostrophe right???] self-interest to borrow from the
commons and let the next generation clean up the mess. However, once
one begins to realize that one may reap what one has sown, then clarity
begins to emerge.

It would be interesting to run this simulation all over again, only instead
of managing it with "freedom" violating impositions of law to manage
it with government funded "advertising" to the public about the shame
they should feel for burdening their children with the consequences
of their choices.


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