Enlightened Capitalism

Essays about how to harness people's natural desire to create wealth and improve their quality of life to solve global problems such as war and poverty.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Will increased prosperity result in environmental degradation?

One difficulty with scaling my solution is the potential for environmental degradation, as millions of poor people with a relatively small environmental footprint suddenly become wealthier and start buying Hummers.

My solution to that is to build into the process a footprint-minimizing aspect. I will explain.

The primary economic driver I am focusing on is the value of real estate, and its ability to serve as collateral for loans. The borderline people targeted by the program will purchase and renovate houses, apartments, and offices, according to a system that yields a consistent profit.

Integrated into this system is the mandate to increase the energy efficiency of the house, and reduce its pollution impact, taking advantage of natural light, solar heating and electricity, etc. The program also calls exclusively for renovation of existing buildings, lowering the impact of urban sprawl, and drastically reducing the total resources spent per habitable dwelling.

We also focus on places with public transit and much lower commute times (i.e. high density residential near high density office space). This reduces the future transportation burden. And finally, we insist on planting local native trees, shrubs, and ground cover.

As we grow, we can add elements such as grey water systems, organic grocery stores and fruit cooperatives, commute free lifestyles, and other waste reduction programs.
Because these behaviors can be encouraged proportionately to the wealth created by the program, we can effectively address and offset any potential rise in pollution and environmental degradation due to increased prosperity.


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