The Real Environmental Crisis: Why Poverty, Not Affluence, Is the Environment's Number One Enemy

The Real Environmental Crisis: Why Poverty, Not Affluence, Is the Environment's Number One Enemy

Jack M. Hollander

Language: English

Pages: 251

ISBN: 0520243285

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Drawing a completely new road map toward a sustainable future, Jack M. Hollander contends that our most critical environmental problem is global poverty. His balanced, authoritative, and lucid book challenges widely held beliefs that economic development and affluence pose a major threat to the world's environment and resources. Pointing to the great strides that have been made toward improving and protecting the environment in the affluent democracies, Hollander makes the case that the essential prerequisite for sustainability is a global transition from poverty to affluence, coupled with a transition to freedom and democracy.

The Real Environmental Crisis takes a close look at the major environment and resource issues—population growth; climate change; agriculture and food supply; our fisheries, forests, and fossil fuels; water and air quality; and solar and nuclear power. In each case, Hollander finds compelling evidence that economic development and technological advances can relieve such problems as food shortages, deforestation, air pollution, and land degradation, and provide clean water, adequate energy supplies, and improved public health. The book also tackles issues such as global warming, genetically modified foods, automobile and transportation technologies, and the highly significant Endangered Species Act, which Hollander asserts never would have been legislated in a poor country whose citizens struggle just to survive.

Hollander asks us to look beyond the media's doomsday rhetoric about the state of the environment, for much of it is simply not true, and to commit much more of our resources where they will do the most good—to lifting the world's population out of poverty.

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2001, people have understandably become cautious about the risks of terrorism. But when opponents of genetically modified foods tell us, under the guise of earth-friendly advocacy, that we should say no to this or any technology that cannot absolutely be guaranteed to be without risk, they are perverting the precautionary principle into an instrument for creating fear of innovation.54 Cliches such as “you can’t be too careful” and “better safe than sorry” completely ignore the commonsense

the colonial period. Later, as the young United States expanded, domestic forests were destroyed at a rapid rate, partly for the wood supply but mostly to clear new lands for the rapidly expanding agriculture. Three hundred years after the arrival of the Europeans, U.S. forests had been reduced from 40 percent to 30 percent of the country’s land area.5 During the period of massive deforestation, concern was widely expressed about an impending “national famine of wood.”6 This wood famine never

wastes. Because natural gas is a “low carbon” fuel, it produces smaller amounts of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide) than coal or oil. In addition, most types of appliances and equipment that operate on natural gas are highly fuel efficient, and this contributes to lower environmental impacts. On the negative side, use of natural gas for heating and cooking may contribute to elevated levels of indoor air pollution (partly from unburned fuel) in comparison with electric appliances, which produce

been available for years. Not only the lack of infrastructure but also a woeful lack of domestic political support inhibits the development of a viable market for renewables in many countries, and the result is that several billion people remain without the basic energy services they need and to which they have a human right. A comprehensive solution for providing renewable energy to the developing world cannot easily be found because the histories, cultures, and SOLAR POWER TO THE PEOPLE |

Fear that the antipathy stems partly from an age-old association of radiation with wizardry and the supernatural. But more important, the fear arises from a misplaced association between the “war atom” and the “peace atom.”9 The war atom relates, first, to the United States’ first use of nuclear bombs against Japan in 1945, and, second, to the ever present threat during the Cold War of a hydrogen bomb exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union—a threat of holocaust proportions that

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