Here’s a great article by John Tierney in NYT(!) today. Love the visual aid from Tierney Lab:
Xiang Dong Qin, 1998 Each line is an environmental Kuznets curve for a group of countries during the 1980s. The levels of sulphur dioxide pollution (the vertical axis) rise as countries becomes more affluent (the horizontal axis). But then, once countries reach an economic turning point (a gross domestic product close to $8,000 per capita), the trend reverses and air pollution declines as countries get richer. In this analysis by Xiang Dong Qin of Clemson University, the green line shows countries with strong protections for property rights; the red curve shows countries with weaker protections.
The best course of action should be pretty clear (notice how the countries with weak property rights protections (communist/socialist/fascist type countries) have a curve which goes much higher?) ; Unfettered economic development invariably leads to a world which is environmentally better off. The idea that we need to “de-develop” or reverse our endless growth paradigm for the sake of the environment is nonsense.