Paul Krugman on Economic Development and the Environment!

Dear Commons Community,

Paul Krugman had a  column earlier this week on environment issues.   He refuted the commonly-held assumption that increasing economic development results in more pollution and damage to the environment.  In building his case he referred to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which pools the efforts of scientists around the globe, and a recently released a draft of  chapters from its latest assessment.   Krugman commented:

“…let’s talk for a minute about the overall relationship between economic growth and the environment.

Other things equal, more G.D.P. tends to mean more pollution. What transformed China into the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases? Explosive economic growth. But other things don’t have to be equal. There’s no necessary one-to-one relationship between growth and pollution.

People on both the left and the right often fail to understand this point. … On the left, you sometimes find environmentalists asserting that to save the planet we must give up on the idea of an ever-growing economy; on the right, you often find assertions that any attempt to limit pollution will have devastating impacts on growth. But there’s no reason we can’t become richer while reducing our impact on the environment.”

Krugman’s argument is built on the fact the renewable forms of energy (i.e., solar power) will expand and mitigate against the argument that economic development automatically results in more pollution.

I hope he is right.



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