Technical Advance In Pollution Reduction

What About Technical Advance In Pollution Reduction

Many people just assume that all we need to do to solve the environmental and resource problems is have tighter pollution control, buy products that ate recyclable, and design more 168 energy efficient products, etc. This is what advocates of “Environmentally Sustainable Development” usually believe. They do not see that we need to change our lifestyles or the economy. The “limits to growth” argument is that there is no chance of solving the major global problems we face unless we go much further and drastically reduce the amount of producing and consuming going on, because the problems are essentially due to the very high levels of resource use and waste involved in our way. Even if we achieve large reductions in the pollution generation rate, but remain committed to economic growth then in a short time we will be polluting 3S much 8S we were or using as much energy as we were before the cuts. If at a point in time we were to cut the rate of pollution per unit of output by 30%, but our economy continued to grow at 3% p. a. Then in only 14 years the annual amount of pollution generated would be back up at the pre-cut level, and in another 23 it would be twice as great. Obviously any plausible reduction in environmental impact will soon be overwhelmed if we insist on growth in output. If the Third World is to develop to the levels of affluence of developed world that will mean burning 10 times as much fuel as at present, every year--pollution control would have to achieve miracles to keep the consequences to anywhere near the present (intolerable) levels. Affluent-industrial-consumer society cant be saved by Factor 4 or Factor 10 reductions in the amount of resource use and environmental impact per unit of output, while commitment to growth remains. Such reductions will soon be overwhelmed if we continue to pursue growth in output.