From Gross Insults to Microtoxicity

Before World War II, concern with air and water pollution focused primarily on smoke and sewers, problems people have grappled with since the dawn of cities. The traditional public health threats killer fogs like the one that sickened thousands and killed twenty in Donora, Pennsylvania, in 1948 and bacteria-laden water supplies for urban areas were serious concerns. Buildings coated with soot and grime, and streams thick with algae and pathogens, were typical signs of trouble. The emergence of...

Globalization and the Environment

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. William Shakespeare Globalization, columnist Thomas Friedman says, shrinks the world from a size medium to a size small. 1 It is a process of integrating not just distant economies but also remote cultures, environments, and governments.2 To its proponents, globalization is seen as helping to cure a multitude of the world's ills. To its critics, it is seen as a false dawn driven by the manic logic of...

Part Three Facing Up to Underlying Causes

We have seen that scientists alerted us to the spread of global environmental degradation during the past several decades. We have also seen that, with few exceptions, attempts to eliminate or even slow the destructive patterns have largely failed. The failure stems in part from having focused too much on symptoms while neglecting the underlying causes. When we look closely at the underlying causes, they are greater in number and more complicated than one would ordinarily conclude. A clearer...

Transition Environmentally Honest Prices

The fourth transition is a transition in the public management of the economy and in the use of market forces. It can be described at the level of traditional neoclassical economics and at a more far-reaching nontraditional level of ecological economics. In the neoclassical description, we seek a market transition to a world in which market forces are harnessed to environmental ends, particularly by making prices reflect the full environmental costs. My colleagues at Yale's environment school...