Is economic growth based upon the exploitation of natural resources and the degradation of the natural environment or can growth resolve environmental problems? Essay

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The dominant form of economics in Australia today is neo-classical economics. The underlying principles of this school of economic thought are based on the power of the market, more specifically the free market (Nadeau 2005). This form of economics undoubtedly has a strong foundation in the exploitation of natural resources. This is partly because dominant economic thought views the natural environment as a marketable commodity, and does not recognise the non-market values of the environment such as beauty and aesthetics, wildlife preservation and maintenance of air, water, soil quality etc. (Nadeau 2005). This essay will explore the strong body of evidence which demonstrates that economic growth and development – as it is currently playing out - is heavily reliant upon the exploitation of finite natural resources. The paper will assert that growth, rather than being a way to resolve environmental problems, is instead causing permanent and irreversible damage to ecosystems all over the globe. As well as exploring this line of argument, the essay will recognise theories which are in opposition to this position, such as the Environmental Kuznets Curve and the Cornucopian theory. The Industrial Revolution that began in the eighteenth century in England has brought about remarkable material progress. Since World War II in particular, advances in technological innovations have provided material benefits that are unprecedented in the history of humans (Okada 2006). Along with material wealth and prosperity, however, there has been a severe deterioration in the quality of the world's natural environment (Okada 2006). Since this time, there has been a huge spike in environmental problems, and humans have usurped many of the Earth’s natural resources either to the brink of, or to, extinction. Biologists generally agree that the rate of species extinction is now

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