Economics of Pollution by Peter A. Victor (auth.)

By Peter A. Victor (auth.)

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Extra resources for Economics of Pollution

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It will be understood that the statement 'pollution has increased or decreased' is meaningful despite the obvious difficulty of assessing the net effect of an increase in one pollutant and a decrease in another. This problem will be taken up again in the next chapter, and it is sufficient to note 44 here that, whereas market prices serve as some sort of common denominator for aggregating marketed goods and services, no equivalent index exists for the many waste products discharged in the course of economic activity.

In so far as this is true, the argument that economic growth implies an eventual decline· in social welfare is strengthened. When the implications of population growth are added to the argument the case becomes even stronger. Population growth affects consumption per capita by raising the possible level of consumption, since more labour is available, and in the opposite direction by increasing the numbers that can share in the total amount to be consumed. It is not possible to say which of these two forces has predominated in the past but it may be hypothesised that in the not too distant future the output added by additional population will tend to decline.

Any single country may well think that its own contribution to the global level of radiation is unimportant and that the internationally agreed limit can be safely ignored. In the absence of an international inspectorate and international sanctions for 30 those who exceed the limit, there can be little guarantee that such international agreements will solve much more than the less contentious pollution issues of the day. In this context there are lessons to be learned from the considerable experience obtained from attempts to prevent over-fishing in international waters.

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