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Affluence: Is it a Solution to the Environmental Crisis - Essay Example

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Societies all around the world need to reduce poverty and protect the environment. Poverty is mitigated through economic development, which means more aggressive exploitation of natural resources and more severe pollution and hence greater burden on the environment. …
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Affluence: Is it a Solution to the Environmental Crisis
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Download file to see previous pages Hence the question is, is it possible to enjoy increasing affluence and better environmental quality simultaneously? Brutal growth, specifically the traditional material or resource exhaustive production burdens the economy’s energy and material ‘sources and sinks’ (De Bruyn, 2000, p. 61). Although brutal growth, without doubt, causes environmental crisis, zero growth is not a solution as such (Myers & Kent, 2004). This essay tries to prove that affluence is part of the solution to environmental problems. The Debate A statement given to the Club of Rome in the 1970s informed the world about the adverse impact of continuous affluence (De Bruyn, 2000, p. 1). Increasing land shortage, aggressive exploitation of non-renewable and renewable resources, and worsening pollution would eventually bring affluence to a standstill. The disintegration of natural and human-made structures would be the outcome. Unless drastic measures were carried out to curb affluence, the economic system would impair the surrounding ecosystem (Field & Field, 2008). At the latter half of the 1960s, post-war economic prosperity was broadly viewed as one of the major accomplishments of contemporary societies. However, during this period progressing affluence was condemned as having a detrimental impact, especially on the environmental system (Dugger & Peach, 2009). Within several years several scholars challenged the potential and appeal of sustainable economic prosperity in the long term. However, several economists countered strongly by stressing that these scholars had underrated technological progress and had overlooked price behaviour, which would involuntarily regulate supply and demand of natural resources. It is not necessary to curb affluence; understanding external outcomes would be adequate (Ison et al., 2002). Other economists even claimed that affluence could greatly contribute to environmental stability as it encourages technological development and produces the resources needed for funding environmental programmes (Hollander, 2004). Beckerman (1992 as cited in De Bruyn, 2000, p. 2) argued that the most definite way to strengthen the environment was to become affluent, or to reinforce and sustain economic prosperity. The major advocates of affluence believe that economic prosperity is the solution to environmental problems. Economic prosperity stimulates technological development and lifestyle changes that will strengthen the environmental system. The policy proposal is thus to encourage economic prosperity and eliminate obstacles which hinder technological development and the successful conservation of the environment (Dugger & Peach, 2009). These economists depend on market processes to mitigate environmental crises and are cautious of environmental policies because these could bring in ‘government-failures’ such as bureaucracy (De Bruyn, 2000, p. 3). Other economists believe that even though greater output can have possible adverse environmental impact, it generates the resources from which useful environmental policies can be funded. Affluence is regarded as a precondition for environmental policy (Hussen, 2004). Therefore, the ideal way to strengthen the environment is to encourage affluence while at the same time implementing environment measures. The Empirical Evidence The argument that economic prosperity is helpful to the environment has been substantiated by findings that there is an empirical correlation between a certain level of environmental condition and per capita income. It has been discovered that as income increases there is worsening environmental disintegration up to a certain point, then environmental con ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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