This is a disscusion forum. Doesnt have to be long or complicated. 120 words
Read Case 7.2: Poverty and Pollution located on page 267 in your textbook. Next predict the effects of pollution permits on poor less-developed areas like Brazils valley of death. Assess the effectiveness of incentive programs on manufacturers in less-developed areas. Based on your assessment pin an argument in support of either pollution permits or incentive programs.
Poverty and Pollution
IT IS REFERRED TO AS BRAZILS VALLEY OFdeath and it may be the most polluted place on Earth. It lies about an hours drive south of So Paulo where the land suddenly drops 2000 feet to a coastal plain. More than 100000 people live in the valley along with a variety of industrial plants that discharge thousands of tons of pollutants into the air every day. A reporter forNational Geographicrecalls that within an hour of his arrival in the valley his chest began aching as the polluted air inflamed his bronchial tubes and restricted his breathing.101
The air in the valley is loaded with toxinsamong them benzene a known carcinogen. One in ten of the areas factory workers has a low white-blood-cell count a possible precursor to leukemia. Infant mortality is 10 percent higher here than in the region as a whole. Of the 40000 urban residents in the valley municipality of Cubato nearly 13000 suffer from respiratory disease.
Few of the local inhabitants complain however. For them the fumes smell of jobs. They also distrust bids to buy their property by local industry which wants to expand as well as government efforts to relocate them to free homesites on a landfill. One young mother says Yes the children are often ill and sometimes can barely breathe. We want to live in another place but we cannot afford to.
A university professor of public health Dr. Oswaldo Campos views the dirty air in Cubato simply as the result of economic priorities. Some say it is the price of progress Campos comments but is it? Look who pays the pricethe poor.102
Maybe the poor do pay the price of pollution but there are those who believe that they should have more of it. One of them is Lawrence Summers former director of the National Economic Council and a past president of Harvard University. He has argued that the bank should encourage the migration of dirty polluting industries to the poorer less-developed countries.103Why? First Summers reasons the costs of health-impairing pollution depend on the earnings forgone from increased injury and death. So polluting should be done in the countries with the lowest coststhat is with the lowest wages. The economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest-wage country he writes is impeccable.
Second because pollution costs rise disproportionately as pollution increases it makes sense to shift pollution from already dirty places such as Los Angeles to clean ones like the relatively underpopulated countries in Africa whose air Summers describes as vastly under-polluted. Third people value a clean environment more as their incomes rise. If other things are equal costs fall if pollution moves from affluent places to less affluent places.
Critics charge that Summers views the world through the distorting prism of market economics and that his ideas are a recipe for ruin. Not only do the critics want greener development in the third world but also they are outraged by Summerss assumption that the value of a lifeor of increases or decreases in life expectancycan be measured in terms of per capita income. This premise implies that an Americans life is worth that of a hundred Kenyans and that society should value an extra year of life for a middle-level manager more than it values an extra year for a blue-collar production-line worker.
Some economists however believe that Summerss ideas are basically on the right track. They emphasize that environmental policy always involves trade-offs and that therefore we should seek a balance between costs and benefits. As a matter of fact the greatest cause of misery in the third world is poverty. If environmental controls slow growth then fewer people will be lifted out of poverty by economic development. For this reason they argue the richer countries should not impose their standards of environmental protection on poorer nations.
But even if economic growth is the cure for poverty other economists now believe that sound environmental policy is necessary for durable growth or at least that growth and environmental protection may not be incompatible. First environmental damage can undermine economic productivity and the health effects of pollution on a countrys workforce reduce output. Second poverty itself is an important cause of environmental damage because people living at subsistence levels are unable to invest in environmental protection. Finally if economic growth and development are defined broadly enough then enhanced environmental quality is part and parcel of the improvement in welfare that development must bring. For example 1 billion people in developing countries lack access to clean water while 1.7 billion suffer from inadequate sanitation. Economic development for them means improving their environment.
Still rich and poor countries tend to have different environmental agendas: Environmentalists in affluent nations worry about protecting endangered species preserving biological diversity saving the ozone layer and preventing climate change whereas their counterparts in poorer countries are more concerned with dirty air dirty water soil erosion and deforestation. However global warmingheretofore of concern mostly to people in the developed worldthreatens to reverse the progress that the worlds poorest nations are gradually making toward prosperity. Or so concludes a 2007 U.N. study.104It offers a detailed view of how poor areas especially near the equator are extremely vulnerable to the water shortages droughts flooding rains and severe storms that increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases are projected to make more frequent and the authors call on rich countries to do more to curb emissions linked to global warming and to help poorer nations leapfrog to energy sources that pollute less than coal and oil.
According to a World Bank report environmental conditions have improved in Cubato where thanks to state action and an aroused population pollution is no worse today than in other medium-size industrial cities in Brazil. True its no paradise but some days you can see the sun children are healthier and fish are returning to the river (though their tissues are laced with toxic metals).105