General Question

xTheDreamer's avatar

What is the connection between the growth of the economy and the decrease of environmental pollution?

Asked by xTheDreamer (890points) April 3rd, 2010

I’ve read somewhere on the internet that despite the economy has grown the environment pollution has decreased.
Now how is this possible?

I would want to know what is the cause of this and how is this so?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

27 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

Why do you think this is true? Because you “read somewhere on the Internet” that it’s true?

xTheDreamer's avatar

@dpworkin I don’t know if it’s true or not AND that is why I was just asking. Can we not explore our curiosity and knowledge?

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Where did you read it?
It sounds like a “walking and chewing gum at the same time” sort of thing.
There’s no reason such a correlation should be impossible.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

It is true, because only richer economies can afford the cleanup. (Aside from which, most forms of pollution are ‘waste’ of one kind or another, and well-run firms with an interest in turning a profit will do whatever is practical and cost-effective to reduce waste and therefore retain earnings.)

For one example, waste oil from deep-frying units in restaurants used to be “garbage”, and was thrown out as trash. Now that refiners have developed ways to process the waste oil to become bio-diesel (or home heating fuel) it’s processed and used that way, reducing part of the waste stream and making the restaurant operator and the refiner both some added income.

That’s just one example out of many.

dpworkin's avatar

For each example of something ameliorative, there are many more of profound waste. Greenhouse gasses are doing no less harm today than yesterday.

ETpro's avatar

The American Enterprise Institute seems to be behind this particular myth. They are a right-wing think tank devoted to massaging science with pseudoscience and junk science. They are heavily funded by the fossil fuel industry, and employ tactics (and personnel) honed in the fight to discredit the science pointing to tobacco smoking risks, and to defend the tobacco industry.

Their current objective is to give support to continued expansion of the fossil fuel industry and to discredit the conclusions of climate scientists. I wouldn’t put much faith in it unless you find credible, peer-reviewed sources saying it, which you do not.

dpworkin's avatar

Thanks @ETpro. I knew it had to have come from piece-of-shit source.

ETpro's avatar

@dpworkin Isn’t Google fun?

davidbetterman's avatar

Actually, this makes a lot of sense. There are many businesses raking in big bucks attempting to clean up environmental messes (many of which the same groups profiting from the clean-up are also the same folks who caused the environmental pollution).

However, I do question your use of the phrase “the growth of the economy…”

LOL…That is truly funny (in a sad sort of way).

LuckyGuy's avatar

Technologies advance and emission standard legislation become more strict.
The exhaust emissions on automobiles are now 1/100 of the level they were before 1974.
My 1985 wood burning stove puts out 50x the particulates of my new wood burner. Industries are being forced to add scrubbers to their stacks. It is for the better.

xTheDreamer's avatar

@davidbetterman i was just translating what I could in english, the thing I read was in dutch so I had to translate it in english that would sound a bit good.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@ETpro & @dpworkin ad hominem much?

@ETpro
The American Enterprise Institute seems to be behind this particular myth. They are a right-wing think tank devoted to massaging science with pseudoscience and junk science.

@dpworkin
Thanks @ETpro. I knew it had to have come from piece-of-shit source.

dpworkin's avatar

You need to look up ”ad hominem”. Which person was I attacking? It seems to me I was expressing an opinion on the source.

Is there really something wrong with @ETpro‘s assessment of the execrable American Enterprise Institute? They are exactly what he said they are.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@dpworkin
Oh, come off it. Feel free to attack the ideas all you want, but you (of all people) should know better than to discredit with a broad brush like that. If people with your level of scholarship are just going to turn off their brains and ‘know what they know’ without having to even look at the proposition, then we may as well discuss nothing more pressing than “how can I tell if she likes me” questions.

dpworkin's avatar

Thanks for the ad hominem analysis.

ETpro's avatar

@CyanoticWasp An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author or source. In this case, I firmly stand by both the relevancy and accuracy of the facts I stated about the American Enterprise Institute.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

How convenient: “I know those people are always full of shit, so therefore and on that basis their ‘arguments’ are invalid or simply lies. No response or counter-argument is necessary.”

If that’s not an ad hominem fallacy, then there is no such thing.

davidbetterman's avatar

@CyanoticWasp Bravo…bravo

@dpworkin also states above, “I knew it had to have come from piece-of-shit source.”

dpworkin's avatar

@CW: Thou mayest judge a man by his companions.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@dpworkin you can judge the man all you want and have as bad an opinion of him as you want, but… if you don’t want to be accused of the illogical fallacy, you do have to address the argument, don’t you? “Oh, that’s a piece-of-shit source” is not a rational argument—and I know that you already know that, which is why I’m surprised that we’re having this discussion.

If you don’t mind having the ad hominem stick, then so be it. But you can’t rationally say that you’re not doing that.

dpworkin's avatar

Mea maxima culpa. If I get any time I’ll try to take a look at their piece-of-shit study and tell you why I don’t like it.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

LOL… no one could ask any more than that. You’re a good guy, no matter what everyone says about you.

dpworkin's avatar

Really? People say things? Oh, My!

davidbetterman's avatar

@CyanoticWasp Too funny…and too true.

ETpro's avatar

@CyanoticWasp You are wrong to label what I had to say an ad hominem but right to ask for supporting criticism. Even a known political propagandist may be telling the truth. In this case, the AEI book is a mixed bag. It rightly points out that air quality in the US has improved over the past 30 years, and even credits intelligent government regulation for this. But it greatly exagerates the improvement. Here’s a good for instance:

It states that from 1987–2007, average levels of carbon monoxide in the air dropped 70 percent. Air Quality in America: A Dose of Reality on Air Pollution Levels, Trends, and Health Risks by Joel M. Schwartz and Steven F. Hayward, The AEI Press, the American Enterprise Institute, 2007.

The EPA says “Carbin monoxide emissions, other than those from wildfires and prescribed burning, decreased 38 percent between 1990 and 2006.”

Source: Environmental Protection Agency, “Latest Findings on National Air Quality – Status and Trends through 2006,” available at http://www.epa.gov/air/airtrends/2007/ or http://www.epa.gov/air/airtrends/2007/report/carbonmonoxide.pdf.

So it would appear the AEI book overstates the case by nearly doubling the reported improvements. Other statistics are equally stretched to overstate the case, but the truth is our air, other than CO2 levels rising, is cleaner today than it was 30 years ago. Anyone who remembers LA smog of the past should know this.

mattbrowne's avatar

Green technology sells.

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