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What Are Some Of The Likely Environmental Impacts Of The Operation Of A 'free Market' Economic System? What Can Be Done To Limit These Environmental Impacts?

1130 words - 5 pages

This essay will firstly define a 'free market' then by using course materials it will discuss the possible environmental impacts of a 'free market' and what can be done to limit them.A free market is a market '…where price is determined by the unregulated interchange of supply and demand. This is in contrast to a controlled market where supply, demand, and price are set directly by government' (Wikipedia). In a free market, the economy has to decide what quantities of food, mobile phones or banking services should be produced and how many trees need to be felled to meet the demand for pulp for newspapers and magazines. It also has to decide how they produce their goods for example how ...view middle of the document...

Forests act as a major carbon store because Carbon dioxide (CO2) is taken from the atmosphere and used to produce the carbohydrates and proteins that make up the tree. When forests are cleared, this carbon is released as CO2. CO2 emissions from fossil fueled power plants also contribute to CO2 emissions and without forests the CO2 is released into the atmosphere (Hinchcliffe, 2004).Michael Jacobs (1991) talks about an "invisible elbow" of market forces otherwise known as externalities which cause general ruin. Externalities can be positive, such as flowers growing in ones garden giving pleasure to the next door neighbor, or negative such as environmental damage, deforestation or chemicals production. These externalities are usually not experienced by the people who create them. Usually the damage caused is never seen by the people who cause the damage and an example of this is pollution from a factory or landfill causing acid rain in another country.In addition, both producers and consumers are involved in creating externalities. Customers are interested in saving money by buying desired items at lowest prices without wondering whether their options contribute to air or water pollution in another country. Producers are concerned about the creation of huge profits while investing as little money and resources as possible, moving their production wherever they find none or little basic environmental and work regulations (Hinchcliffe, 2004).Markets have the reputation of unequal power. Richer people will avoid the environmental depletion and an illustration of power is the fish market. The less fish that are available the higher the price of fish will be, the poorer population will not be able to afford the fish, therefore, it is the wealthy people who demand the goods because they can afford to pay the higher prices. Nevertheless, it is the children in todays society and generations to come who will be most affected by the condition of the planet (Hinchliffe, 2004).So we need to ask our selves how we can keep the externalities under control and one possible solution is to extend private ownership by assigning property rights. What a man owns, a man can do...

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