Economic Growth versus Environmental Protection

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Introduction

The issue of economic growth and environmental conservation has created mixed feelings in human beings. On the global scale, developed countries depend upon the industries which contribute to their wealth but cause immense air pollution. At the community level, families clear forests to create agricultural land. In the long run, these activities end up depleting unlimited natural resources like air and forests causing climate change and its related problems. This paper seeks to demonstrate that while it is significant to improve the economic status of the community through industrial and agricultural processes, it is equally important to conserve the environment in order to obtain more raw materials that would help in creating more wealth for the community.

In their search for wealth, human beings have destroyed and wasted natural resources putting the earth at risk. For us to achieve sustainable development, we should preserve the environment for future generations to also benefit from the same environment. According to Ghosh (2008), destroying the forests in search for agricultural land leaves the communities with very few or no resources to depend on for economic development. People flock to the urban centers and contribute to the expansion of jails. Air and water pollution add to crop failure. As such the much awaited economic development might not be realized. In contrast, the community would end up suffering from malnutrition and poverty.

Communities sustain losses rather than benefit from industrialization, since it is always accompanied by degradation of the natural resources (Ghosh, 2008). The best example is China. While its economy is improving, the citizens suffer from chronic water and air pollution. This has led to health problems and contributed to immense loss of crops valued at billions of dollars. Uncontrolled growth is therefore not only bad for the environment but it does not make economic sense (Ghosh, 2008).

Tisdell (2007) asserts that the opponents of environmental conservation agree that the world would be much better if every community strictly observed environmental rules: Conservation of natural resources, avoiding water and air pollution and sustainable agriculture among others. However, they argue that for most communities and countries at large environmental rules would not be the best steps to take. For instance, closing steelwork industries which cause too much pollution would lead to loss of jobs for thousands of citizens. As such, they correctly argue that equal application of environmental policies would prevent economic progress and political stability.

Nevertheless, such a narrow way of reasoning is not good for economic development. While it might seem to be working for now, the time will come when there will be no raw materials for the industries that they so much depend on. No one would wish to stop economic development that could create better lives for millions of people. However, we must stick to environmental conservation by avoiding over extraction of the natural resources. The industries should also take responsibility for any damages they cause of the environment. For instance, the polluter pay principle where an industry takes the responsibility of cleaning up any damages caused to the environment including pollution or cutting of trees (Tisdell, 2007). Another strategy that could protect the environment is the clean development mechanism: A company comes up with a project that would reduce the amount of carbon released into the air to compensate for the pollution it would have caused thus earning carbon credit.

Conclusion

Industrialization has brought in economic prosperity and many job opportunities for communities. Closing down some of the major polluters of the environment would lead to loss of jobs. However, uncontrolled economic development would result in immense environmental degradation that would cause climate change and health-related problems. In the long run, the world will suffer loss of human capital that is supposed to help in the creation of wealth. Similarly, overexploitation of resources such as forests that are natural carbon sinks would contribute to depletion of the ozone layer. Instilling strict environmental policies such as the polluter pay principle and clean development mechanism would therefore monitor the economic growth and ensure sustainable development.

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