Environmental Death or Economic Life

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The dilemma of economic growth versus environmental concerns is something that all economies grapple with and will continue to do so for a very long time. As inhabitants of this planet, the populace constantly interact with the environment and as a result, the environment constantly changes. According to Professor John Sloman (2000); who has been the Head of the School of Economics at the University of West England for a number of years and who currently holds the position of Director of the Economics Network which provides publications, events and other resources to support university teachers worldwide; Scarcely a day goes by without some or other environmental issue featuring in the news. Another warning about global warming, a company fined for illegally dumping waste, a drought or a flood blamed on pollution, a health care about car exhausts, smog in tropical countries caused by forest fires: these are typical environmental issues that we are constantly hearing about. (p. 327) These environmental issues address a number of concerns that affect the pattern of growth for an economy. If one is to ask almost anyone whether or not they would like a cleaner environment, the answer would be yes. However, if asked whether taxpayers or other consumers should pay for these improvements, there would be varying responses and differing controversial views. Likewise, if asked about the major problems faced by any individual country, the economy always top the list while environmental concerns seldom break the top five issues that may be mentioned. “The truth of course is that most of us care more about our standard of living than we do about the health of some species we seldom if ever see.” (Church, 1992, para. 1). It can also be said that most persons are more concerned with their own welfare than that of persons who will live three or four years after them. It is with these and many other varying controversies and issues, that the study of economic growth and environmental concerns continue to demonstrate an ongoing struggle. These further confront whether an economy should have to choose between environmental death and economic life. Thus, there are many issues confronting the study of economic growth versus environmental concerns, including, large population growth, environmental pollution, the inverted U-theory: also known as the Kuznets Curve, and economic and environmental sustainability. Primarily, a major issue of the study of economic growth versus environmental concern is the large growth of populations. This large growth may become uncontrolled and may have detrimental effects on both an economy and the quality of life of a people. Professors of Economics at Yale University, Ray Fair and Sharon Oster, and Professor Karl Case at Wellesley College for over three decades, have each endorsed the view that concern over rapid world population growth is not a new issue and is characteristic of many developing countries. “The populations of the developing nations are estimated to be growing at about 1.7 percent per year...If the Third World’s population growth rate remains at 1.7 percent, within 41 years it population will double from the 1990 level of 4.1 billion to over 8 billion by the year 2031 …What is so alarming about these numbers is that given the developing nations’ current economic problems, it is hard to imagine how they can possibly absorb so many more people in such a relatively short periods of time” (Case, Fair & Oster, 2009, p.724). This recognizes that if rapid population growth is not properly managed, the quality of life of the people will be eroded and progress for human development and economic growth will be hindered. Similarly, holder of a B.Sc. (Honors) in Economics, specifically Economic Policy, and lecturer of Economics at the Dominica State College, Cladius Sanford (personal communication, June 25, 2012), further acknowledges that economic growth, in its measure of GDP per capita, is an...
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