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Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals
Growth-End of Affluence-Small Is Beautiful world view that we are running out of resources is not only wrong, it stands in the way of environmental improvement in most areas of the world.
The third core concept:
Technology, long held by orthodox environmentalism to be the curse through which man has despoiled the "natural" environment (whatever that is!), has instead turned out to be the blessing through which environmental gains have been and will be achieved.
Moreover, the wellspring of environment-friendly clean technology will be the old "enemies" of orthodox environmentalism—industry and market mechanisms.
The fourth core concept:
Market mechanisms can't do it all, and environmental regulation will necessarily continue to play a key role. Many environmental regulations are reasonable allocations of responsibilities, but we have to use them cautiously. They are like "headless nails," easy to put into place but nearly impossible to remove.
Regulation can also result in gross misallocations of society's resources. (The $8 billion "cleanup" at Hanford that has yet to really clean anything up and hazardous waste cleanups under the Superfund program come to mind.)
The fifth core concept:
We must recognize—and celebrate—the environmental successes of the first 25 years since the first Earth Day.
We have come a long way. The air we breathe and our lakes and rivers are far cleaner than they were at the time of the first Earth Day in 1970.
This success has left us with a new and exciting fundamental choice: We can continue to allocate political and financial resources in the pursuit of marginally diminishing levels of "environmental success" here in the United States, or we can adopt a broader, more global view that achieves a greater good for the health and safety of a majority of the Earth's inhabitants.
And finally, my sixth core concept:
Perhaps the greatest tools that we can employ for the sake of the global environment are democracy and the promotion of economic prosperity, even if new economic prosperity in the Third World is accompanied by increases in resource consumption.
Now let me highlight and expand on just a few of these key concepts. Because time is short I'll skip directly to key concept number two: