Discuss the view that the growth of the Global Market Economy is incompatible with the Goal of Environmental Conservation.

Authors Avatar

Discuss the view that the growth of the Global Market Economy is incompatible with the Goal of Environmental Conservation.

At first sight, growth in the economy would seem to be incompatible with the goal of environmental conservation. There are three main goals of Environmental Conservation (Adams 1990). Firstly, all the natural cycles and processes must be maintained to support human life. Secondly, the preservation of biodiversity in order to act both as insurance against any damage to complex food chains, and as an investment for the future (Adams 1990). The third objective set out by the World Conservation Strategy was the ‘sustainable development’ of ecosystems; for example, the fertility of grazing lands must be maintained to prevent desertification. In order for today’s economy to function, fuels have to be taken from the ground and burnt, goods must be carted from place to place and a certain amount of waste must be produced. These processes have a damaging impact on all three of the WCS’ objectives for Environmental conservation. However, possible answers to the problem may lie in science, technology or even in the economy itself.

Simon Kuznet developed one hope of finding a common interest between a growth in the Global Market Economy and the goal of Environmental Conservation in 1955. Currently, most people in the world are too poor to have more concern over environmental degradation than over their personal income. As the economy around the world continues to grow, concern over the environment will increase, as wealth becomes less of a problem: ‘Economic growth per se will lead to environmental conservation’ (O’Riordan 2000). This process is called the Environmental Kuznets Curve. This suggests that initially countries become industrialized creating both wealth and pollution using ‘environmentally unfriendly’ fossil fuels. As countries grow richer and the goal of environmental conservation becomes more important, the wealth is used to purchase more expensive but cleaner fuels and invest in sources of renewable energy. This in theory creates a pollution curve, which peaks and then subsides resulting in environmental sustainability.

Join now!

There are a number of possible flaws in the Environmental Kuznets Curve however. Firstly, environmental degradation suffered during the peak pollution period could be irreversible and would certainly be incompatible with the goals of environmental conservation. Biodiversity loss is shown to be associated with economic growth (O’Riordan 2000). Global Warming due to an increase in greenhouse gasses (because of economic growth) could lead to environmental, economic and human catastrophe. Rising sea levels and shrinking land mass will make it more difficult for sustainability to be achieved. A growth in the economy and subsequent increase in affluence (and consumption) could only ...

This is a preview of the whole essay