November 18 2012
Human Beings: The Best of Worst Thing for the Planet?
Vicki E. Alger
In this month’s issue of The American, Kenneth Green identifies the environment’s best friend: economic growth. Conventional (alarmist) wisdom suggests that as societies and economies grow, so does the demand for energy—and that demand hurts the environment. But a good environment and good economics are not a zero-sum game. On the contrary, they go hand in hand:
Energy is clearly not environmentally benign — our use of energy pollutes air and water, degrades land and sea, and more. However, understanding the environmental transition curve suggests that as societies continue to develop, their environmental impact will reduce over time. Indeed, the environmental transition curve suggests that the single best thing we could do to minimize energy’s impact on the environment is to not only maximize our own economic growth but also to help developing countries increase theirs, allowing them to switch to ever cleaner, less polluting forms of energy.
This is a breath of fresh air—much better than the stale old tropes from environmental activists who say human beings are the worst thing to happen to the planet.