Friday, June 17, 2011

Environmental Regulations and Economic Development by Leanne Clark

Environmental Regulations and
Economic Development
Leanne Clark
Warner Pacific College
June 16, 2011

As we look at environmental regulations and how they impact our country’s economic development, it would be easy to assume that strict regulations would hinder such economic growth. Tough laws and restrictions cost money to adhere to, right? While it is true that setting up to work within environmental regulations can be a sizeable investment, recent evidence also proves being good to our earth and honoring biodiversity can actually support and improve economic development.
Steven Meyer, a political scientist at MIT, completed a study in 1992 which supports the idea that environmentally strong states show a better economic climate.
When you group the states in sort of three categories, environmentally strong, moderate and weak -- when you compare the strong with the weak, what you find is that on average the environmentally strong states outgrow, on all the indicators, the environmentally weak states by a factor of one and a half to two times. (Meyer, 1992)
The United Nations named 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity stressing the importance of biodiversity, especially in third world countries. Three quarters of the world’s population depend on natural resources for daily living and their daily survival. With our natural resources on a continual path of destruction, we push those who are most vulnerable further into harms way. By establishing and enforcing environmental regulations which protect resources, such as clean water we are allowing those in under developed countries to work toward a future. (Preserving world's biodiversity vital for economic development, 2010)
In the United States, it is the Environmental Protection Agency charged with establishing regulations to protect our environment while working in coordination with industry. The current director of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, supports the idea that such regulation and protection of our natural resources encourages and improves economic growth, not impedes it.
In response to the argument that environmental spending should be curbed until the economy is improved, Jackson responded,
Without clean energy, the global economy will be running on empty within our lifetimes. It’s time to stop denying that obvious truth, stop playing on the politics of delay and denial, and start thinking more broadly about what is going to help us all move forward together. (Granger, 2010)
From every corner of the world, environmentalist and government officials alike are shouldering the biodiversity banner. Each seems to understand more deeply that a planet rich in diverse ecosystems will most effectively support a growing world population and faltering world economy.
Another factor directly related maintaining, or not, a healthy base of biodiversity is government corruption. For example, a study by scientists from the Universities of Kent and Cambridge in England has shown that corruption levels in developing countries play an important role in affecting the success of conservation projects. Their results show that countries with threatened species and habitats tend to be the most corrupt and that corrupt countries in Africa are the least successful at protecting their elephant and black rhinoceros populations. (Corruption and biodiversity conservation, 2009)
Clearly we can see that a planet rich with biodiversity would also be a more economically stable planet. One answer to our environmental and economic problems will not do, we must bring together all those factors to provide support for these two critical forces. By establishing and enforcing environmental regulations that protect our many plant and animal species, we are in fact, protecting ourselves.

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