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Flashcards in The Ecological Environment Deck (4):
1

Ecological problem

energy supplies currently depend on
- The nature of production processes now results in pollution and ecological damage
- Resource depletion – impacts food supply, water availability, energy
- Social costs/ negative externalities – occur as a result of production or consumption of goods/services – but for which no individual/organisation pays for
- Simplest solution – devise a way where the agents are responsible for their pollution – internalizing the externality
o However critics say this may encourage the belief that the problem is solved even though the environmental damage still exists
o Key concern is that businesses will operate as usual.
o Others argue that given the right incentives businesses will choose to go green

2

Perspectives on role of business

- Views from the right
o Free market – it is the ability of private businesses to operate in markets free from government regulation that will drive economic progress
o Indirect cost of growth is environmental damage – trade off to be made between this and growth in living standards
- Views from the left
o Businesses have a vested interest in encouraging consumers to buy more so are indirectly responsible for impacts
o They argue that businesses are just responded to consumer demands
- Green view
o Need to move away from anthropocentric view of world which sees humans as driving force of nature and sole beneficiary of resources – to an ecocentric view that recognizes our interdependence with nature

3

Environmental regulation

- In 20th century, it became accepted that business activity needed to be regulated in order to protect natural environment and that government would have to take direct control over a range of environmental areas
- Need to have environmental standards linked to trading agrees
- Benefits: Reduce cost of waste, energy consumption savings, improved corporate image

4

Global issues

- Desertification, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, whaling, protection of ozone layer, climate change
- For effective action to be undertaken – it is important to devise a system of international cooperation to develop a regime
- Multilateral treaties are required and these may be regulated either through a commitment of organisations or a conventional process – agree on framework and identify ways to deal with problems
- Risk and uncertainty – Environmental policy requires people and organisational to change their behaviour in relation to resource use so we recognise social costs of damage
- Major barrier is our lack of knowledge of what our ecological impact is /how to minimize
- Effects of climate change
o Unique and threatened ecosystems – increasing temperatures
o Extreme weather events – prolonged droughts, heat waves, floods
o Distribution of impacts – most vulnerable in weakest economic position