One of the main reasons I support markets is because I love the beauty of nature. I’m a hiker, a mountain climber, a kayaker, a horseman. I grew up on the ocean and love the salty air.
When looking at environmentalism, the simple fact is that markets, because they are profit-oriented encourage conservation. This seems counter-intuitive, because many in the environmentalist movement argue that profit causes pollution, but that doesn’t pass the sniff test. Resources have to be used to make goods and services. Resources cost money. For a firm, every bit of resource not used costs them money, and in turn, profit. For example, imagine a metalworking firm that shapes steel. In the process of shaping steel, the firm shaves off bits. Over the course of the week, the shavings amount to a pound. As of this writing, steel prices are $324.80 per pound (West Coast). That means the firm gives up $324.80 in profit per day, or $118,552 per year! A firm that is truly profit-oriented looks to reduce waste in order to keep that profit.
Check out this chart that shows what I just talked about:
The crux of the argument that markets cause pollution and waste because they are profit-oriented doesn’t hold up to a basic examination. The argument would need to be that market participants have a greater contempt for the environment than desire for profits.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, according to the WHO, the most deaths from pollution globally do not come from outdoor, but rather indoor pollution. Indoor pollution comes around because affordable forms of mass energy production (ie fossil fuels), are not available in much of the world. By promoting fossil fuels in the 3rd World, we can prevent these deaths.
While we’re talking on fossil fuels, it bares reminding that, currently, “green” energy sources (solar, wind, geothermal, biofuels) remain highly expensive and inefficient. Hell, most people in the 1st World can’t afford it, never mind the poorest of the poor in the 3rd World! Western environmentalism is a rich man’s game. In order to help the planet, we need to make the world wealthier, and that means markets.