Pollution of the environment (land, air, and water) has become a global pandemic. The contamination of the ecosystem has created widespread and untold environmental consequences for humans, animals, and plants alike. Efforts to halt uncontrolled pollution and to reverse its effects are currently underway. At the heart of these attempts is the issue of sustainability. This term has supplanted the use of ‘pollution prevention’, signaling a fundamental shift from attempting to stop pollution since resolving environmental problems is essential for essential for efficient and economic viability of human activities (Harland, 2012). This paper discusses resource sustainability in pollution and the economic valuation method of issuing incentives to tackle the continuation and spread of pollution.
The mainstream environmental movement has been shaped by the concepts of sustainable development and sustainability. The Brundtland Report, Our Common Future, published in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), introduced the use of the term. It defined sustainability as meeting current needs without compromising the ability of future progenies to meet theirs. The implications of this principle are extensive, affecting all business processes such as construction, manufacturing, and production. Preventing pollution begins with the reduction and elimination of waste at the source by replacing production processes, encouraging the use of less harmful materials, actualizing conservation methods, and reusing resources instead of discarding them as waste.
Sustainable business practices feature the redesigning of processes to decrease or completely phase out the use of limited or non-renewable resources. The main ways of undertaking this include conservation of urban land and using renewable resources such as wind, solar, water, geothermal, and biofuels. Additionally, production processes should, where possible, reuse or source for raw materials that have been recycled from elsewhere. Renewable resources are inexhaustible in the foreseeable future, and as such, are always available for use. This is mainly due to a number of characteristics. These resources are capable of self-regeneration through ecological processes over time. Additionally, they many only become depleted when/if they are consumed at such rates faster than the environment can replenish them.
The effectiveness of renewable resources is not in doubt. Unlike non-renewable resources, they are not limited, therefore, their value is not solely determined by the forces of demand and supply like fossil fuels. Similarly, their exploitation does not pose any negative consequence to the environment such as wasting economical land. Additionally, renewable resources are spread evenly across all countries, preventing the rise of a monopoly. The combined effect of these reasons is that the cost of renewable resources is much lower and stable. No other alternatives offer such an attractive cost-benefit tradeoff.
Economic Valuation Methods
The technique chosen for tackling air pollution was the use of incentives. This included decreasing taxes on salaries, wealth, and income, while raising taxes on environmentally harmful products and activities. Additional incentives included subsidizing green goods and services, encouraging the sale of services in place of goods, and reducing poverty in the society. A number of assumptions have been taken in this method. First, decreasing taxes on salaries and income of employees and entrepreneurs that produce alternatives for carbon-based energy sources make that industry economically attractive, encourages its growth. Secondly, subsidizing the cost of biofuels, electric cars, and solar-powered machines allows more people to buy these products hence boosting profitability. Lastly, transitioning to renewable energy shifts the economy from goods-based to services-based, with analysts seeing potential in services, research, and high-tech (Hockenos, 2015).
Incentivizing use of renewable resources is of non-consumptive value. The use of incentives is important in the larger economy because the transition from non-renewables to renewable resources is important to the future of the environment. Governments use incentives to support this new fast growing industry in order to make them competitive with traditional energy sources (Byrd & DeMates, 2013). Another method includes charging punitive levies on fossil fuels.
- Brundtland Report. (1987). Our common future. Manila: World Commission on Environment & Development.
- Byrd, R., & DeMates, L. (2013). Renewable energy 101 and the importance of incentives. The sustainability Co-Op. Retrieved from https://thesustainabilitycooperative.net/2013/10/13/all-about-renewables/
- Harland, J. (2012). Why the road to sustainability starts with pollution prevention. GreenBiz. Retrieved from https://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2012/03/06/why-road-sustainability-starts-pollution-prevention
- Hockenos, P. (2015). The energy transition’s effect on jobs and business. Clean Energy Wire. Retrieved from https://www.cleanenergywire.org/dossiers/energy-transitions-effect-jobs-and-business