Welcome environmental impact

In: Uncategorized

25 Apr 2009

Until I read this article in the New York Times I had not realised the relationship between the Obama administration and a key environmental formula. Evidently the IPAT formula – which holds that environmental Impact = Population multiplied by Affluence multiplied by Technology – was devised by John Holdren, a physicist and Barack Obama’s science adviser.

On one level the equation can be said to be common sense. The higher the population, the greater the affluence and the more advanced the technology the more of an impact humanity will have on the environment. The problem comes when impact is assumed to be a bad thing. From that mistaken premise it is a short distance to the conclusion that there should be fewer people, less affluence, less advanced technology or some combination of these factors.

In reality environmental impact can be a good thing. Humanity has the potential to shape the environment for the better rather than simply damage the planet. As I argued in my essay on eco-economics (see links on the left) the domination of nature should not be confused with its destruction. Nature should be moulded and reshaped for the benefit of humanity.

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