Response to Week 5 Prompt 4: Climate Deniers and the Case Against Environmentalism

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I disagree with the idea that environmental regulation has a significant effect on the economic growth of the United States. I believe that implementing more sustainable methods of conservation and regulation are a must if we are to continue to survive at our current level of economic prosperity as a country. There are many misconceptions regarding environmental regulation and the growth of the American job industry. While many claim that environmentalist practices have led to a significant loss of job opportunities, this is largely not the case. The creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970 and the current widespread belief that this agency has led to higher levels of unemployment is a prime example of how people choose to blame regulatory policies for our modern day economic troubles. Duke Professor William Pizer refutes this idea by pointing out that the policies of the the EPA and our current loss of jobs do not go directly hand in hand. He states that, “The biggest job losses occurred in the 2000s, long after the huge body of EPA regulations was issued in the 1970s and ’80s,” which helps prove the point that our current economic decline stems from a combination of factors and cannot be pinpointed to merely one set of environmental policies. In my opinion, the benefits from the implementation of regulatory policies far outweigh the costs. If we continue to focus solely on economic gain without any regard to how we are exploiting our ecosystem, we will eventually exhaust the resources that have been so generously given to us. I believe that this extreme partisanship can be attributed to peoples’ individual lifestyle choices as well as lack of education regarding environmental issues. When deciding whether or not to support an issue, people tend to look at the potential costs and benefits associated with that issue and I believe it is no different in the case of choosing to support or reject environmental policies. Suppose Person A is living a lifestyle characterized by mass consumption while Person B has chosen to adopt a more modest way of living. Unsurprisingly, it will be much harder for Person A to advocate for a regulatory policy due to the fact that it will cost them much more to change their current habits as a opposed to Person B who has already made it their priority to incorporate sustainable practices into their current way of living. The claim that, “increased environmental regulation will lead to slowed economic growth,” is mainly an excuse that allows people to justify their current levels of overconsumption rather than acknowledge the current environmental issues at hand. It is not a proven fact that has been successfully backed by substantial scientific evidence.

 

http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2013/0513_environment.shtml

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One response »

  1. After doing some research on my own I find myself agreeing with what you say. I read some of an article titled The economic impact of environmental regulation by Stephen Meyer. The paper agrees with your point that environmental regulation will not have a significantly negative impact on economic growth. There are bound to be small setbacks while initially introducing new regulations but this is counterbalanced by economic gains often seen after becoming environmentally aware. The article also argues that there is little evidence that deregulating the environment will have large economic benefits, especially not to any extent in which we should jeopardize the environment. Your argument between the hypothetical person A and person B is also a point that i agree with you on. The problem, which I believe you were trying to illustrate for us, is how do we change a mentality that is so far ingrained into our daily lives (especially when it is powerful enough that we are willing to look past data and argue against environmental regulation). Its definitely a tough idea to tackle and i don’t think it has a simple answer but I’m glad you brought it up.

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