Friday, January 20, 2012

Gleen Rice's view on Environmental Regulations

PHS100A Environmental Studies
Warner Pacific College

January 20, 2012

Environmental regulations are instituted to mitigate or prevent any potentially destructive extraction practices, pollution, waste, labor abuses, or the monopolization of limited natural resources. I believe that most individuals that have seriously considered the topic of natural resource protection would agree in whole or in part with this definition. Nevertheless, and most unfortunately for the environment, it is very difficult to answer the questions about where, how, and why these protections should be applied. Many powerful factions – with specific self-interests have become entrenched in deep philosophical battles over the purpose and use of environmental resources. As world population increases to levels that have been easily proven to be unsustainable, the increasing economic value of natural resources and the problems associated with their extraction has become a battle over what human survival actually means.

Often, environmental regulations that attempt to both accommodate economic realities and mitigate resource exploitation are dichotomous. To the extraction and development interests – most regulations are unworkable in light of the need for economic development and maintaining a supply chain to consumers. The argument from the other side of the regulatory debate is that extraction methods based upon economic feasibility often necessitate the use of highly destructive practices that degrade and exacerbate the fragmentation, unsustainable reassignment, and over-development of sensitive natural areas. Additionally, the environmental argument that has the greatest public awareness and is at the forefront of this debate, is pollution. Pollution has a negative impact upon the lives of humans as well as the rest of the animal kingdom that is clearly observable and measurable. Nonetheless, there is a strong relationship between resource extraction and the motivations of an advanced society to acquire the (needed and frivolous) material goods produced because of this activity.

Thus, economic development interests, applying pressure from a supply and demand standpoint, and resource protection from a global health standpoint, are tragically at odds with one another. Moreover, the argument involves the balance between the short-term goals of economics and the long-term goals of environmental protection. Therefore, what has necessarily followed from the intractable conflict between these interest groups is an attempt to develop a regulatory system that sets mutually agreed upon standards of practice. However, much to the trepidation of resource dependent business, restrictive regulatory systems are often put into place to protect long-term environmental concerns from the reactionary pursuit of short-term economic and material aims. It is quite true that protecting the availability of natural resources over the long-term will assuredly create economical hardship for resource-dependent industries. However, ironically, the regulation of environmental resources serves to protect the availability of the very resources needed to supply such an economy.

The representatives of two areas of human necessity are disputing the role of environmental regulation and its effect upon the evolution of global economics – and the evolution of the global environment. The attainment of wealth is a very strong motivator in the pursuit of economic growth in the short-term; however, very little profit can be enjoyed in the pursuit of environmental protection. A world population that will continue to grow for the foreseeable future will require the extraction of essential environmental resources, therefore, a regulatory system exists to serve as a buffer between the intrinsic human drive to advance its self-interest and the protection of the natural environment, which supplies the means by which this human advancement can occur.

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