473964883-Environmental-Markets-vs-Environmental-Socialism-Capturing-Prosperity-and-Environmental-Qu

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1 Environmental Markets vs. Environmental Socialism | Anderson Environmental Markets vs. Environmental Socialism: Capturing Prosperity and Environmental Quality By Terry L. Anderson, John and Jean DeNault Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution It is hard to date the beginning of environmentalism. It might have started when the Reverend Thomas Malthus in 1798 penned An Essay on the Principle of Population . Therein he postulated that humans would continue to reproduce until the population demands exceed their ability to produce food, after which famine, disease, and pestilence would check population growth in a “Malthusian trap.” His postulate continues to permeate environmental thinking. For example, in the 1970s, the Club of Rome, armed with data and computers, predicted precise years when we would reach the limits of the world’s resources. 1 Their predictions of disaster for humankind called for regulations to restrict use and consumption of resources and thereby restrict economic progress. Despite the fact that we have avoided the trap, this pessimism persists, cloaked in romantic views of nature without human beings. Henry David Thoreau’s Walden provided a more romantic or transcendental view from his window and John Muir used wilderness as his environmental pulpit, but both were not sanguine about human beings’ ability to respect and preserve nature. Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac continued the romantic tradition of the nineteenth century, calling for a “land ethic” to encourage resource stewardship. 2 Malthus’s ghost set the stage for modern environmental policies, with books such as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb . 3 Like earlier predictions, the books forecast famine, pestilence, and wild species endangerment if we did not limit population growth and resource use. Both of these books set the stage for the environmental movement that gave us a regulatory alphabet soup—the WA (Wilderness Act, 1964), the CAA (Clean Air Act, 1970), the CWA (Clean Water Act, 1972), and the ESA (Endangered Species Act, 1973), to mention a few. This legislation is based on the premise that private individuals and companies will not be good environmental stewards, thus making command and control at the federal level necessary to ensure environmental quality. The classic example of the need for regulation, especially the Clean Water Act, was the Cuyahoga River fire in 1969, allegedly caused by chemicals in the water but actually resulting from a railroad spark that ignited logs and other debris that had accumulated at a trestle. To be sure, some of the environmental regulations have had a positive effect on the environment. For example, endangered species such as the bald eagle are no longer routinely shot or poisoned, and populations of bald eagles have increased enough to reduce them from “endangered” to “least concern.” Similarly, sulfur emissions have been reduced significantly to reduce the threat of acid rain.

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