Economic growth vs environmental sustainability we should explicitly identify trade-offs between economic benefit and ecological impact. The relationship between economic growth, human well-being, and the tradeoff between the goals of economic growth and environmental sustainability rests. the environment. At the heart of this has been the heated debate over the nature of the relationship between economic growth and environmental sustainability.
This is the Environmental Kuznets Curve EKC hypothesis and is supposed to explain why environmental quality has improved in richer countries. The argument is simple: The validity of the EKC hypothesis, however, has been seriously questioned. First, in the case of global pollutants such as carbon dioxide, there is not enough evidence that its levels start falling after countries become richer. Second, it is not clear how much damage we can cause to our ecological systems before which they start undergoing irreversible changes.
Third, the improvement in environmental quality after an income threshold may have more to do with the ability of developed nations to shift polluting industries to developing nations at low economic cost and less to do with public demand for policies that lead to a cleaner environment.
What could be an alternative approach? We could start by refusing to sweep the dirt under the carpet and instead explicitly acknowledge the ecological costs not necessarily in monetary terms of economic growth. For example, we might want to acknowledge that the growth of the automobile sector, often considered to be an indicator of a strong economy, or our hunger for cheap energy come at the cost of air pollution to which people in our cities are exposed.
We might want to explicitly acknowledge that development projects in mining and infrastructure often come at the cost of natural forests we might never be able to recreate. The first implication for policy is that in the planning of development projects, we should explicitly identify trade-offs between economic benefit and ecological impact.
Second, to determine what trade-offs are acceptable, we must design transparent mechanisms that allow for meaningful discussion through a participatory process, in which all the groups affected by the projects are involved.
We need to strengthen participatory processes such as public hearings in the environmental and forest clearance process. Research shows that meaningful public participation in decision-making in a variety of environmental and natural resources management contexts will, in the long run, build greater trust among various stakeholders and reduce conflict. We should monitor these trade-offs not only for individual projects but also at the macroeconomic level.
Ecological economists are arguing increasingly that countries should consider developing and reporting measures of human well-being other than gross domestic product GDP that better account for environmental and social costs of resource use.
Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability: the Prospects for Green Growth
Although no single indicator has emerged yet as an alternative, several have been proposed. In a paper published in Nature ina research team led by well-known ecological economist Robert Costanza identified 14 indicators of well-being as alternatives to GDP, including genuine savings, index of sustainable economic welfare, genuine progress indicator, and gross national happiness.
Increases in population cause over-exploitation of natural resources such as forests, water, fisheries and minerals at a rate far greater than their capacity to regenerate. Besides, population pressure on land compels us to cultivate arable land more intensively by using chemical inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides which cause soil degradation.
Relationship Between Environment and Economic Growth
Further, increase in population through its effect on deforestation by the rural and urban population for timber and fuel leads to the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and therefore causes air pollution. Thus the population impacts on environment primarily through the use and depletion of natural resources and is associated with environmental problems such as air and water pollution and loss of biodiversity and increased pressure on arable land.
As an example of estimate of loss, Tata Energy Research Institute TERI estimates that economic losses due to soil degradation, diseases caused by pollution and forest degradation is between Rs. Populations increases cause over-exploitation of land and water resources and loss of biodiversity and forests and will therefore endanger sustainability of agriculture and food security in the country.
According to Prof MS.
It is manifest from above that rapidly increasing population in developing countries will lead to the over-exploitation and degradation of land and depletion of fisheries which will threaten the achievement of food security in the developing countries. Besides, the growth of urban population in the absence of adequate infrastructure facilities has caused the lack of clean water to drink and given rise to slums with the poor sanitation which has increased the vulnerability of the people to several diseases.
It follows from above that to meet the expanding needs of the developing countries, environment degradation must be halted. For that purpose, reduction in population growth will greatly help in easing the intensification of many environmental problems.
Poverty in developing countries is also said to be responsible for environmental degradation. Poor people rely on natural resources more than the rich. For survival the rural poor are forced to cut forests for timber and fuel as well as graze animals on pasture lands more than the reproductive capacity of these natural resources.
Besides, when the cultivable land becomes short relative to population, the poor are forced to make their subsistence by cultivating fragile land on hills and mountains resulting in soil erosion on a large scale. It is in such environment that poverty becomes a vicious circle.
Poverty leads to land degradation and land degradation accelerates the process of impoverishment because the poor people depend directly on exploitation of natural resources on which property rights are not properly assigned. Thus, though a large number of poor people earn a good deal of their livelihood from the un-marketed natural resources such as common grazing lands, forests from where food, fuel and building materials are gathered by them, the degradation and loss of such resources may harm the poor and result in perpetuation of their poverty.
Thus, as mentioned above, in the use of natural resources by the poor, the vicious circle of poverty operates.
It is important to note that the poorest in our society will suffer most if we use our resources unsustainably as their lives and livelihood depend very directly on water, land, seas and forests. This requires sound environment policies which attempt to conserve the natural resources and help the poor to use them properly so that forest cover is not destroyed, land is not degraded through soil erosion and its fertility is maintained.
With growing population the poor encroach upon large remote areas of forests and grasslands to make their livelihood. If there are strict regulations to prevent such encroachment, it is opposed with stiff resistance by the poor, especially in the tribal areas. The solution to the poverty problem of these teeming millions lies in land reforms, generation of more employment opportunities and improvement in productivity of arable land already in use, for example, shifting the poor from poor resource-based to modern science-based agriculture.
This is what has been sought to be achieved through green revolution technology. However, the green revolution has also been criticised for environmental reasons, especially the use of fertilizers and pesticides that increase soil salinity. Besides, ample use of irrigation in green revolution technology without adequate drainage facilities results in soil degradation through salinity and water logging.
Adequate and appropriate steps should be taken to make the green revolution technology clean and environment-friendly. There can be no two opinions that major efforts must be made to overcome these defects through development of less poisonous chemicals, pest and insect control with reduced chemical application and improved drainage facilities. However, if the efforts to develop modern technology were abandoned because of these defects, employment and income-earning opportunities for marginal farmers and agricultural labourer would continue to be reduced under population pressure.
As a result, many would be forced to push cultivation frontiers into ecologically fragile lands resulting in increased incidence of food and soil erosion. It is important to note that the environment representing forests, mines, sources of water, land that provides employment and livelihood to the poor people, especially those living in the tribal regions and it is they who in India are opposing the various development projects, even those cleared by the government.
Economic growth vs environmental sustainability
Sunita Narain, a noted environmentalist, rightly writes. It is people, often the poorest, saying these projects will devastate their environment, their forests, which is their source of water, land and livelihood. They are saying, we are poor, but your development will make us poorer. The environmental movement of the country is being led from the bottom today. It is not in the hands of middle-class environmentalists like me. How are business firms concerned with this environmental issue?
The business firms are related to the natural environment in two ways.