The Free Market’s Answer to Sustainable Development

Jerry Taylor of the Cato Research Institute published an interesting article refuting the viability of Sustainable Development policy in relation to both enterprise and environmental requisition. His fundamental argument rests on the supposition that technological efficiency and slowing population growth have trended towards a surplus in natural resources, thus making Sustainable Development a costly and useless exercise in governmental regulation.
The crux of Taylor’s argument is predicated on the assumption that both strong sustainability and weak sustainability preserve resources for future generations who will likely have little use for them due to technological advancement. Further, he makes a similar contention to that of Danish scientist Bjorn Lomborg, stating that sustainability is best addressed through improved markets in third world countries. Although Taylor provides reasonable evidence to back his assertions, he likewise falls into a serious assumption gap that greatly diminishes his point. To assume that technology will make a fluid transition from natural to man-made resources, based purely on conjecture, seems like a potentially calamitous weight to thrust upon the scientific community of tomorrow. Statistics are easily manipulatable to favor a specific viewpoint, clearly Taylor has taken to this approach in the hopes that pressing environmental issues today, will somehow solve themselves at a later day and time.

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3 comments on “The Free Market’s Answer to Sustainable Development
  1. Florent says:

    “stating that sustainability is best addressed through improved markets in third world countries”
    I desagree with these idea. In western countries SD is viewed as the next step in our economy and development. Also we think SD has good consequences in LCD.
    However economically speaking SD is a major evolution in western countries’economies whereas LCD’s economies do not change. So the gap is increasing.
    Clearly SD is a world evolution but LCD’s needs are not equal in WC’s and scientists or politicians tend to forgive it.

  2. Pierre-Yves says:

    I just want to react about Taylor’s arguments. He says that advancements in technology would provide a surplus in natural resources, “thus making Sustainable Development a costly and useless exercise in governmental regulation”.
    The firt critique is that SD is not only a question of resources and ecology. It also deals with human progress in education, heatlh or welfare. So I don’t think that it is useless to take measures to improve this things.
    The second critique is about the supposed benefits of technological advancement. Let’s have a look on biotechnologies; GMO products for example. Everybody agrees that it helps providing (more) food by using less pesticides. It also preserves ground water. But we are not told about the bad effects of such technics. It seems to be OK with human health, but what about the global eco-system? It is already proved that GMO plantations have an impact on fauna and flora next to the field. As we said in class, one of the main issue about SD is preserving nature’s balances and cycles, and I don’t think new technologies always target that goal.

  3. barouri says:

    in a world which goes increasingly faster i am following the idea of stephen P.
    Don’t let waste compromise your business by using the sustainable development. The inefficient use of raw materials, packaging and technology could be costing you the Good environmental management can be a valuable investment in efficiency and could pay handsome dividends to your company by reducing your overheads and boosting your bottom line.
    Improving the way goods and services are designed, made, delivered, used… and disposed of provides greater value, performance and choice for the consumer – as well as reducing environmental impacts.

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