Is the EPA America’s Secret Economic Weapon?
Do you remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? The tortoise won the race because he ran the whole race, taking the long view, seeing the big picture, unlike the rabbit who, given his speed, didn’t see the need.
While China seems to be roaring ahead right now with unchecked economic expansion, the significant environmental challenges they are accumulating will eventually catch up with them. The International Fund for China’s Environment estimates that the cleanup of this mess will cost well over $100 billion annually, more than 2% of their GDP. In fact, the Academy for Environmental Planning estimates that back in 2004 China spent over 3% of their GDP on environmentally related costs and in 2007, according to the World Bank, that number was 6%. Considering that the entire US defense budget ($771 billion last year) represented only 5.5% of our GDP that gives you some idea of the magnitude we’re talking about. Does anyone still think that the environment is not a matter of national security? Environmental expenditures in the US are ounces of prevention compared to these many pounds of cure.
In India, concern over the economic impact of environmental pollution has become so acute, that a special branch of their accounting system has been created to track this. A World Bank study, back in 1992 found that environmental costs in India comprised some 4.5% of GDP. Population growth since then, equivalent to the addition of an entire US population has surely raised that figure.