The Richer the Greener?

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.)

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.