Comments: One of the Dumbest Things I've Read in Years

"Still, the idea that economic growth causes
hardship just doesn't make any sense. Economic
growth unequivocally improves lives, raises
standards of living and creates a better
world. After all, the world of today is far
better than it was back in 1900, 1950 or even
1980. As such, it stands to reason that with
continued growth, the world of 2020, 2050 or
2100 will be better still."

While I can appreciate this line of reasoning, it unfortunately comprises a mostly specious argument to support eroding the environment. Numerous studies in psychology and economics have shown that things associated with economic growth (such as consumer choice) usually do not improve things associated with quality of life (such as happiness). Moreover, many studies have shown that convenience and choice often do more harm than good to individual well being. Here are two blog-friendly references to this interesting scientific literature.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easterlin_paradox

http://www.sju.edu/academics/cr/chronicle.htm

Whether links to environmental issues are tenable is debatable. However, mounting evidence would suggest that life today is probably not much better than life in the 1950s...at least in the eight inches between the ears of most individuals.

Posted by motown musings at October 11, 2007 12:40 PM

I'm not going to deny there are costs associated with economic growth. However, I think it's pretty clear economic growth can and has gone hand-in-hand with an improved environment. Simply put, a growing economy gives people the ability to say they want limits on certain activities that cause excess pollution or have negative environmental effects, because they no longer have to rely on those activities for their daily bread. It's a lot easier to say no to a mining operation when you don't have to rely on the mine to feed your family.

Conversely, we can see the huge environmental damage caused in countries that had suffered under Communism, because the emphasis in those prosperity-starved nations was necessarily on production and not on the environment.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at October 11, 2007 07:46 PM
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