According to Richard Stroup and Jane Shaw in their article How Free Markets Protect The Environment, it would be better for the government to allow the potential polluters to protect the environment based on the existing market conditions rather than put restrictions regarding environmental pollution.
Potential polluters only consider the potential cost of their costs of production rather than the cost of pollution (Stroup & Shaw, 1992). They therefore never take initiatives to control pollution especially when it is government regulated. Considering that most of the policies against pollution are politically instigated, the government thus is left in a compromising position in regard to protecting the environment since most politicians institute policies that would favor them politically rather than those that will protect the environment.
Considering that politicians are only in office for a limited period and also considering that laws prevent the politicians from directly benefiting from any economic incentives, the politicians as a result lack the motivation to institute any policies that would benefit the society as a whole (Stroup & Shaw, 1992). The politicians are likely to institute those policies that would see them retain their political seats.
The government also in many cases lack reliable information to institute laws to control pollution. This leads to the policy makers inventing mechanism that either fail or even cause more harm than good thus costing the tax payers money. For instance, Forest Service officers tend to cut and replant trees extensively, a policy they consider effective in protecting the environment but which disregards the need for the natural forests as recreational facilities. Politicians are also influenced by minority environmental groups in policy making thus designing policies that are inconsistent with the view of the public (Stroup & Shaw, 1992). This is one of the reasons that led to the degradation of Yellowstone and the disappearance of some wildlife such as the grizzly bear and the beaver.
The government also oversaw building of unnecessary dams that led to flooding. This not only wasted tax payers money but has also led to personal loses to those affected.
It is therefore necessary, that the government allow free market mechanisms to protect the environment. Individuals devoid of government intervention would be in a better position to protect their property against pollution or degradation to prevent their property from losing value.
Effective liability systems when instituted will prevent corporations or industries that are inclined to pollute the environment to be more careful then when they are only taxed by the government and allowed to work at their own discretion. By allowing insurance companies to secure the environment by having the environmentally risky ventures to be insured, then it would be easy to ascribe the polluting industries responsibilities thus inhibiting their potential to pollute (Stroup & Shaw, 1992). A good measure would be to have industries brand their chemicals for identification. This would make it easy to identify the responsible pollutants and have them be liable to the costs of pollution.
Accordingly, private organizations are also likely to better protect the environment from pollution than would governments. Private organizations are not susceptible to the ever changing political views and do not have to conform to any political supporters. They therefore would be consistent in their bid to protect the environment. Secondly, private organizations unlike the government agencies do not require uninterested parties to cover the cost of protecting the environment (Stroup & Shaw, 1992). The contributors are therefore more motivated to their course than if the funds were from tax payers’ money.
It is also necessary to institute the trade-cap laws to force companies to take keenly the need to avoid environmental pollution. Considering that the government laws have failed to curb pollution, then the cap-and-trade may be an effective solution (Harford, 2006). This is a market based approach that allows for flexibility and determines who is allowed to pollute the environment more. Considering that this right is bought, industries would be influenced to invent more creative ways to curb pollution to avoid spending more on these rights. Environmental conservationists would also be in a position to better control pollution by purchasing and retiring some of these rights.
Buying carbon offsets would be another better mechanism of reducing carbon emission to the atmosphere but might have its downside (Leibenluft, 2008). It would not be easy to value a particular carbon offset. It would also be a challenge to confirm if the actual purchase had any real positive contribution in protecting the environment. Carbon offsets thus would be misused by unscrupulous individuals to make money out of well meaning unsuspecting individuals.
It is evidently clear thus a free market economy with minimal government intervention and supervision is a better way of curbing pollution as compared to a government regulated market. The economist view thus that unregulated markets cannot curb pollution is more of a fallacy than a truth. Evidence has it that private protection of the environment has always been more successfully than government regulated mechanisms. It is thus important to allow a free market to curb pollution.
Harford, T. (2006). “The Preservation Paradox: Why Conservation Laws Can Kill the Animals
they are Supposed to Protect.” Slate. http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/the_undercover_economist/2006/08/the_preservation_paradox.html
Leibenluft, J. (2008). “Are Carbon Offsets Worth It?” Slate.
Stroup & Shaw. (1992). “How Free Markets Protect The Environment.” Propety and
Environmental Research Cente. http://perc.org/articles/how-free-markets-protect-environment