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

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Tue Jul 03 2001 - 07:29:44 MDT

Anne Marie Tobias wrote:
> Any basic for an economic system must include the inherent cost of
> the short and long term effects of that economy. Those effects must
> include resouce utilization, sustainability, ecological and environmental
> cost, and the cost benefit of that economic venture to the culture in
> which it operates. An equitable system must be established that does
> not allow one person to benefit at the harm or death of thousands or
> millions of others. Our current system lives inside completely fallicious
> concepts. Resources are not endless (at least as long as we live on this
> planet, and even shortly after we leave the planet, resoures may indeed
> become limiting factor for growth.) The world cannot endure unlimited
> damage, or pollution. The world cannot sustain unlimited human
> populations. Yet, the basis of our economics assume these very things.

No, it is not, nor are resources limited. Yes there is a fixed quantity
on earth, which we have barely scratched the surface of. However, there
is far more to resource utilization than sheer mass. Efficiency is one
thing. If technological advances in utilization efficiency, refining
efficiency, recycling, etc exceed any increase in demand, then the
actual total mass utilized goes down (for example, 97% of all aluminum
used is recycled, which has contributed to the decline of the bauxite
refining industry). Similarly, if we are able to recover more of a
resource for less cost due to better technology, then the saved money
equals saved resources in and of itself.

The facts are that a) we, as industrialized individuals, pollute far
less than we used to, b) even with externalities included, resource
costs per capita have continuously trended downward, and c) if they were
getting more scarce, they would be trending upward. Per capita pollution
follows a bell curve that peaks at around $10,000 of annual per capita
income. When an economy advances beyond this point, per capita pollution
begins to drop off markedly, to the point that at around $20,000-25,000,
the average person doesn't pollute much more than they would have in a
stone age existence.

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