So is it really the case that liberty and the environment are simply opposed? Does the good of one come only at the expense of the other? Or can liberty and a flourishing natural environment reinforce one another, the good of one encouraging the good of the other? Can economic activity under a system of liberty be environmentally sustainable in the long run?
Ronald Bailey tackles the impact, pro and con, of sustained economic growth on our environment. Through detailed research and objective observation of opposing viewpoints, Bailey concludes the following…
These findings point not toward breaking but strengthening markets: we need to institute mechanisms that allow markets to price in global externalities, bringing to bear the forces that have worked so well for costs that are already internalized to property owners, like local land loss and pollution cleanup. How this will work in practice is a subject well worth debating. But those debates should begin with the following fundamental points of agreement, drawn from history and economics. Free markets are the most robust mechanism ever devised by humanity for delivering rapid feedback on how decisions turn out. Profits and losses discipline people to learn quickly from and fix their mistakes. By contrast, top-down bureaucratization tends to stall innovation and to make it more difficult for people and societies to adapt rapidly to changing conditions, economic and ecological. Centrally planned economies fail; centrally planning the world’s ecology will fail as well. Our aim must be to find ways for liberty and the environment to flourish together, not to sacrifice one in the vain hope of protecting the other.
The whole article can be read here… https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/liberty-and-the-environment
Ronald Bailey is the science correspondent for Reason magazine. This article is adapted from a lecture delivered at the Reconciling Ecology and Economics conference hosted by the Property and Environment Research Center in 2013.