Using the words “optimal” and “pollution” in the same sentence may appear daunting to many, however when the notion of an “optimal level of pollution” is fully explained, it appears more logical and applicable to our current global pollution problem. In his book, “People or Penguins: The Case for Optimal Pollution”, William Baxter makes several astounding points which lead us to the conclusion that zero pollution is not feasible, therefore we must consider what an optimal level of pollution for the earth is instead. If we can understand the notion that there are optimal levels of pollution, can we then make the assumption that there are optimal levels of most other things, such as violence, disease, and litter? Optimality, if taken into consideration on a world-wide, cross-species scheme, may actually be applicable to most of the things that we come in contact with on a day to day basis. In order to start applying a level of optimality and the lines we can draw concerning it, we must first understand the conclusions that William Baxter has considered concerning optimality. We can then draw a line concerning how the idea of an optimal level can come into consideration.
As stated previously, the notion of an optimal level of pollution is a thought that could be hastily pushed aside by many of today’s deep ecologists and environmentalists. However, Baxter lays out a very detailed and insightful proposition. He begins his essay by asking us what we want to achieve. Let us say that the goal in mind is to take positive steps towards improving the condition of our current environment. If we want to make the air cleaner and reduce GHG emissions, we must first ask ourselves some questions. These might include: how may we go about doing this? How clean is clean? What exactly does clean mean? How low of a level must the emissions be before they are obsolete? Do we really need them to be obsolete? And skeptics may even ask, “Why do we need... [continues]
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