The Richer the Greener?

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Ben Cohen
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By Ben Cohen

I'm not sure whether I follow the logic of this argument, but it's an interesting concept. The crux:

While pollution can increase when a country


starts industrializing, as people get wealthier they can afford cleaner


water and air. They start using sources of energy that are less


carbon-intensive — and not just because they’re worried about

global warming

. The process of “decarbonization” started long before

Al Gore

was born.

The
old wealth-is-bad IPAT theory may have made intuitive sense, but it
didn’t jibe with the data that has been analyzed since that first Earth
Day. By the 1990s, researchers realized
that graphs of environmental impact didn’t produce a simple
upward-sloping line as countries got richer. The line more often rose,
flattened out and then reversed so that it sloped downward, forming the
shape of a dome or an inverted U — what’s called a Kuznets curve. (See nytimes.com/tierneylab for an example.)