Is economic growth good for the environment?

Maybe so, at least in some significant ways.  There is a new paper from Nature, by Oscar Venter  It strikes me as an oversimplification in some ways (carbon? what if there is a biodiversity “wall”?), but still many of the core points are valid and indeed empirically verifiable:

Human pressures on the environment are changing spatially and temporally, with profound implications for the planet’s biodiversity and human economies. Here we use recently available data on infrastructure, land cover and human access into natural areas to construct a globally standardized measure of the cumulative human footprint on the terrestrial environment at 1 km resolution from 1993 to 2009. We note that while the human population has increased by 23% and the world economy has grown 153%, the human footprint has increased by just 9%. Still, 75% the planet’s land surface is experiencing measurable human pressures. Moreover, pressures are perversely intense, widespread and rapidly intensifying in places with high biodiversity. Encouragingly, we discover decreases in environmental pressures in the wealthiest countries and those with strong control of corruption. Clearly the human footprint on Earth is changing, yet there are still opportunities for conservation gains.

For the pointer I thank Charles C. Mann.


Comments for this post are closed