“Resource depletion is the consumption of a resource faster than it can be replenished. Natural resources are commonly divided between renewable resources and non-renewable resources. Use of either of these forms of resources beyond their rate of replacement is considered to be resource depletion.”
THREATS TO THE ENVIRONMENT COME FROM TWO SOURCES :
- POLLUTION : The undesirable and unintended contamination of the environment by human activity such as manufacturing, waste disposal, burning fossil fuels, etc.
- RESOURCE DEPLETION : The consumption of finite or scarce resources.
MAJOR TYPES OF AIR POLLUTION
- GREENHOUSE GASES : carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide.
- OZONE DEPLETING GASES : chlorofluorocarbons
- ACID RAIN GASES : sulfur oxides.
- AIRBORNE TOXICS : benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, trichloroethylene, and 329 others.
- COMMON AIR POLLUTANTS : carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, airborne lead, ozone, particulates.
MAJOR TYPES OF WATER POLLUTION
- ORGANIC WASTES : human sewage, animal wastes, bacteria, oil.
- INORGANIC POLLUTANTS : salt brines, acids, phosphates, heavy metals, asbestos, PCBs, radioactive chemicals.
DEPLETION OF NON-RENEWABLE RESOURCES
- Extinction of species through destruction of natural habitats.
- Natural resources depleted at peaked rate, not exponential rate.
- Fossil fuel depletion
- Mineral depletion
THE ETHICS OF POLLUTION CONTROL
- ECOLOGICAL ETHICS = The ethical view that nonhuman parts of the environment deserve to be preserved for their own sake, regardless of whether this benefits human beings.
– The “Last Man” Argument
- Asks us to imagine a man who is Earth’s last survivor.
- We recognize it is wrong for the last man to destroy all nonhumans.
- So we must recognize some nonhumans have intrinsic value apart from humans.
- Humans have a right to fulfill their capacities as free and rational and a livable environment is essential to such fulfillment.
- So humans have a right to a livable environment and this right is violated by practices that destroy the environment.
- Such environmental rights can lead to absolute bans on pollution even when the costs far outweigh the benefits.
PRIVATE AND SOCIAL COSTS
- PRIVATE COST : The cost an individual or company must pay out of its own pocket to engage in a particular economic activity.
- SOCIAL COST : The private internal costs plus the external costs of engaging in a particular economic activity.
MARKETS AND POLLUTION
- Total costs of making a product include a seller’s internal private costs and the external costs of pollution paid by society.
- A supply curve based on all costs of making a product lies higher than one based only on sellers’ internal
- The higher supply curve crosses the demand curve at a lower quantity and a higher price than the lower supply curve.
- 'WHEN SELLERS’ costs include only private costs, too much is produced and price is too low.
- This lowers utility, and violates rights, and justice.