In an increasingly globalized and interconnected world, one of the biggest debates continues to be between economic growth and environmental protection. On one side, economic growth is sought after by business, which wants to grow in a rapidly expanding market. For this reason, economic growth is often used as an excuse for neglecting environmental issues. The other side claims that economic growth does not affect the environment in any significant way. With increasing knowledge about the effects of economic growth on the environment, both sides have begun to address the debate in a more rational way. Although it is still too early to determine which camp holds the strongest sway in the coming years, one thing is clear: both economic growth and environmental protection are important for a healthy and livable society.
Growth vs Environmental Protection There are two main arguments presented by environmentalists against economic growth. One says economic growth leads to increased levels of atmospheric pollution. Because of this, economic growth becomes an indirect cause of atmospheric pollution. Because of the increasing level of pollution in the atmosphere, it has been determined that economic growth also increases the likelihood of climate change and the destruction of the planet. This means that economic growth can be equated to environmental degradation, if not directly. Because economic growth is seen as an enabler of environmental degradation, eco-protection has been made one of the highest priorities of social movements.
The second argument presented against economic growth is that it causes economic inequality. Since the Earth's ecosystems are becoming more polluted with industrial waste and pesticides, those at the bottom end of the economic spectrum are suffering the most due to the increased level of pollution. In fact, some say that economic growth is a major contributor to the problem of environmental pollution and its resulting problems such as climate change. If the trend continues unchecked, it is estimated that by the year 2021, half of the Earth's natural resources such as air, water and land will have already been severely depleted as a direct result of economic growth.
The third argument presented against economic growth is that it contributes to the phenomenon of rising global temperatures. Rising temperatures are known to lead to disastrous weather patterns, drought, floods and hurricanes. This then has the added effect of leading to the further destruction of already damaged ecosystems and the accelerating loss of aquatic resources. The result is often extreme weather disasters such as super cyclones and typhoons which can kill hundreds and even thousands of people.
The fourth argument against economic growth is that it leads to increased levels of atmospheric pollution. It has been widely accepted that industrial emissions are one of the major drivers of climate change. In addition, the emissions have been found to be the cause of many health conditions and diseases such as asthma. This is because they increase the concentration of toxic chemicals in the atmosphere. In order to reduce this concentration of toxins in the atmosphere, a large scale effort must be made to regulate the use of vehicles. To put a stop to harmful emissions, various regulations regarding the construction of factories, vehicles and other industries are being introduced.
The fifth argument against economic growth and environmental protection is that it may decrease economic growth. Since the environment plays a crucial role in determining the quality of life, living standards may not increase while at the same time environmental degradation worsens. For this reason, countries with a strong environmental policy are seen to have higher economic growth rates. In fact, some have been able to achieve rates as high as the economies of the developed world.
Environmental damage has also been found to be a major cause of health problems. Studies show that exposure to environmental pollution leads to a variety of illnesses ranging from allergies, asthma to cancer. Therefore, economic growth must be promoted in order to address the growing problem of environmental degradation. The promotion of environmental protection therefore has been seen as a way of promoting economic growth.
Given these arguments, it is easy to see why environmental policies are important on both a national level and a global scale. A policy that promotes economic growth will help businesses and individuals to make the most out of the current resources without compromising the environment. At the same time, the implementation of an environmental policy means protecting the environment for future generations. As such, a wise decision is made by citizens, businesses and other institutions alike to adopt a policy that is both economically beneficial and environmentally sound.
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