Module 6 - Eternal health and safety issue.docx

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14 Apr 2012

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Module 6 - Eternal health and safety issue
It’s not just about pollution that is the health and safety issue, it’s also about product
safety (some products physically damage people)
The Politics of Pollution Control
Is there really a problem?
Jan Narveson’s Libertarian critique of Environmentalism
o Convinced that there is no environmental problem at all
o Vocal minority group out to feather their own nests
o Base problem on dubious science
o Hysterical socialist agenda
That is misanthropic
Systematically underestimates human capacity for technological
Where is the problem?
Is it a problem that we keep on taking?
Isn’t that what the earth is for?
Do we need to be concerned about depleting all of our resources?
o Oil and gas companies
o Tress and reforestation
Where does this hysteria come from? (that if we take and take there will be nothing left
and mass catastrophes)
John Palmer’s Critique of Environmentalism – 2nd reading
o Resource gets scarce
o Supply falls
o Price goes up
o New producers are attracted
o Deforestation is all supply and demand
o Diminishment of the resource creates incentives to plant more
Environmentalist being critiqued have certain convictions about the rate of resource
E.g. Oil is going to run out in 15 years
E.g. Forests will be depleted in 35 years
o Deep scientific questions to ask about whether those are accurate claims
E.g. debate about the science behind global warming
Kyoto Accord debate as to whether global warming is even
Or is this just a 200 year hot cycle
o Does industrialization have anything to do with global warning?
Stewart and Dickey’s Optimism Re: Pollution Control – Reading in text book
The Issue of Optimism and Pessimism
Stewart and Dickey’s Optimism
o Prospects of finding a balance between:
Pursuit of short-term profit goring and maximizing standard of living
Some kind of environmental sustainability
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Schrecker’s Pessimism (not in reading)
o Doesn’t believe that this balance is possible
Steward and Dickey: The Pollution Control Argument
It is in the self-interest of business to care about environmental responsibility
o Public image
o Prolong their resources
o Employees don’t want to live in a polluted environment
o Cost efficiency do more with less
o Employee morale helps recruitment
o Increase profit
With raw demand
Willing to pay more
Stewart and Dickey Favourably Cite Public Opinion Polls
o Changes in consumer awareness and consumer behaviour are beginning to create
demand for green products. (people are becoming more green and it’s changing
they way they buy things/product demand)
o Do you think that’s true?
o They believe that this shift is permanent and built into the marketplace?
Do you shop at Body Shop or Walmart? $15 vs $3 for lotion
o What do these surveys actually indicate?
Surveys are notoriously unreliable when it comes to long term attitudes
and long term changes
People don’t tell surveyors what they actually believe
Often give answer that they think surveyors wants
1960 election between J.F. Kennedy and Johnson 70% of people told the
poller that they voted for Kennedy but in reality many of them lied
because that was the closest election in history
o Environmentalism has gone in cycles
Early 1960’s – Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Late 1960’s – counter culture movement
Early 1970’s – creates momentum in favour of all the pro-environmental
Late 1970;s environmentalism is not on the agenda
o Connection with Economic Growth
Ealty 1980’s – difficult for economy
Mid 1980’s – economy heats up again
Late 1980’s – environmentalism is a hot issue again; Brundtland
Early 1990’s – recession, little concern for environmental issues
Late 1990’s – economy up again, but environmentalism cannot match late
Rio Conference scheduled during the pack of interest in ’89, then
the economy tanked and nothing came out of Rio because they
wanted the recession to end
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o Don’t recession show that people are more concerned about their jobs than about
the environment?
Income and standard of living (income goes up you buy a nice house and
nice cars but it doesn’t mean you won’t shop of Walmart anymore)
Ten years ago the concept of stakeholder as opposed to shareholder didn’t
Sustainable development and the Brundtland Commission
Japan’s economic success – see lecture for more on this
o Does concern mean a change in consumption pattern?
o Do you look for green information on your groceries?
o Are you just going by price?
There is progress in knowledge and on some front but what Stewart and Dickey are
saying is that there has been a permanent progression in consumer’s attitudes towards
what they purchase
Schrecker’s Pessimism Re: pollution Control
He is a skeptic about pollution control and it’s effectiveness
He is skeptical about our ability to find that balance
Schrecker has 3 arguments as to why pollution regulation will not work without substantial
political reform:
1. The information needed to develop appropriate standards for pollution is in the hands of
industry and difficult for the government to access
o Counter argument to this could be for them to just legislate that they have to
provide that information: Schrecker has something to say about this (cover this
o This is not part of the current laws currently preference is to adopt a cooperative
stance between industry and government
o Government relies on information provided by the very polluters who are
supposed to be regulated
o For polluters, this is a huge conflict of interests
Prevalence in North America is cooperation between environment
ministries and industry
Industry is trusted to release reliable information
Have a say in the data that the regulation relies on
o Punitive regulations cannot be placed on industry or they will withhold
information they will delay the information forever (lost in the mail, spell
check, lost in the mail again, etc)
2. Majority of the pollution comes from heavy industry
o Scientific debate about whether consumer measures are important at all
o Heavy industry usually found in remote, sparsely populated areas
This gives polluters enormous political sway in the districts they represent
Their lobbying efforts of the company and its employees are much more
They are able to exert a concentrated political force because of the way
electoral boundaries are drawn in North America
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