Note: Repost from the old blog. In the world, that is. Pretty amazing figure, but it’s apparently solid, and if anything, it is conservative. Not only that, but 50 million kids cough chronically due to smog too. It’s from a book called The Natural Wealth Of Nations: Harnessing The Market For The Environment by David Roodman. Roodman’s book is not bad, but he does advocate for “a market for the right to pollute.” The problem is that if we accept his figures that air pollution kills 500,000 people a year, then a market for the right to pollute boils down to a buying and selling disease and murder. How can that possibly be justified? A steady theme in this book is one of environmental taxes. If we taxed pollution, we could cut back on taxes on individuals and business by up to 15 Furthermore, experiments with pollution taxation in Europe have shown that when the taxes are high enough (for instance, taxing companies for the discharge they put into waterways) the result is typically a rapid decline in pollution. The very notion of taxing pollution has been ferociously opposed by business here in the US and it has never gotten off the ground. It is little discussed in the debate over trading pollution credits, but under such a regime, it is quite possible for a business to invent new sources of pollution and then go to the government to set up a market for that pollution and then to profit from selling the rights to that pollution. This is about as perverse as things can get, but it shows you just how nuts capitalism can be.
- Roodman, David Malin. 1998. The Natural Wealth Of Nations: Harnessing The Market For The Environment. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.