On most subjects I am a free market proponent, but when it comes to the environment and things that obviously ruin the environment for folks I am a proponent of controls. The planet’s ecosystem has been durable for the larger part of human residency but given the massive quantity of humans and the large footprint that follows their activities have started to hurt themselves and folks thousands of miles away from them. The extinction of honeybees, the shortening lifespans in Asia, and the melting of the polar caps are just three of many consequences of human activity that will surely cause pain in suffering to none other than other humans. From an American perspective, that means the some peoples’ right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is being denied by others who may or may not have a choice in the environmental harm they commit.
Looking at the lives of people living in heavily polluted cities, such as the ones in China where pollution levels have reached twenty times the dangerous amount and simply breathing in the air is like constantly smoking I would pay thousands of dollars and forgo earning tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to not threaten my health with such hazards. Unfortunately the people there don’t have a choice, and the coal power plants along with auto-mobile pollution and factory pollution make this a daily routine. Even though the capital city Beijing has tried to clean up the factories in their city, the change does little as factories dot the surrounding cities and is carried and hovers over the area. Only time will tell how bad this has been on the people but even now medical experts are claiming living in these areas will reduce the average life expectancy around 15 years!
The problem isn’t population per say, as India’s cities are more densely populated than the polluted ones in China, it is the way economic growth has been archived. The United States and especially England went though this period during the industrial revolution and also had massive pollution. This was to a smaller scale, however, since it was between 250 and 150 years ago when populations were smaller and most pollution was isolated to coal powered steam factories and coal power plants. Will the earth ever recover its lost glaciers and reclaim polar ice land area, or will we continue to see a gradual progression to a more arid world with less protection from solar flares and more solar radiation along with conventional pollution?
There are folks out there that seriously don’t care about the environment, they are just trying to get by economically. However, I argue that the same argument can be made from someone stealing bread from another person – the economic gains made through sacrificing the environment impose harsh penalties on others who want to live in a clean world free from newly created environmental hazards they may not be able to afford to protect themselves from.