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The Negative Implications of an Increasing Standard of Living on Environment

Discuss About The Standard Of Living And Environmental Damages.

Over the decades, the world has experienced huge dynamics and development, which in turn has facilitated the economic abundance, prosperities and growth of the economies of the countries across the world, thereby increasing the overall standard of living of the population in these places. The term “standard of living” refers to the overall lifestyle, the demand and the consumption as well as expenditure patterns of the general population of a country, which can be as a whole, observed to be increasing in the global scenario over the years (Diener, Tay and Oishi 2013). This increase in the standard of living has been especially facilitated by international occurrences of huge significance like that of globalisation, commercial liberalisations and technological innovations (Ezeh, Bongaarts and Mberu 2012). This economic development, has in turn led to an overall increase in the living standards of the population of many countries, especially the developed and the developing ones, which in turn has considerable implications on the social and economic dynamics of the societies across the world. These changes in the social and economic domains can be seen to have considerable implications on the environmental aspects of the globe (Yeates 2014). Keeping this into consideration, the concerned essay tries to discuss the social and economic effects which arise out of this higher standard of living, which have negative implications on the environmental aspects and the counterarguments which are present in each of the cases.


A significant share of the global population believes that the increase in the living standards of people over the years has negatively affected the quality of global environment since ages. Much of the reasons behind such notion is mainly economic. One of the economic effects of the increase in the overall standard of living of population across the world is the creation of increased demand and consumption pattern with the increase in the standard of living, which is reflected in the higher incomes in general (Muller 2014). This in turn leads to an increase in the encouragement of the producers to increase their supply of commodities, which in turn has led to the increased level of manufacturing of commodities across the globe to meet the increased demand. This has bilateral implications on the overall environment of the globe. On one hand excessive usage of the scarce natural resources, in the rapidly growing manufacturing industries depletes the non-renewable stocks of the same and on the other hand the over-usage of these resources and their by-products leads to environmental degradation, thereby affecting the overall human life across the world. This can be seen with the example of the usage of the non-renewable fuel and energy resources over the years, especially by the contemporary developed and highly developing regions like the West Offshoots, European countries, Asian regions and others, especially for the rapidly growing manufacturing activities (Shindell 2015). This on one hand has decreased the already scarce reserves of the same and as per the assertions of many, the reserves of oil are expected to exist for the next 42 years, which that of natural gas can sustain only 60 years and coal, another 250 years, which is extremely threatening for the economy. On the other hand, the increased manufacturing activities has led to higher levels of air, water and other types of pollution. The usage of fossil fuels excessively also has led to extreme emission of Carbon Dioxide and other green house gases, which in turn has led to the international problem of immense concern, known as Global Warming. Due to the increased emission of these substances, the average temperature of the globe has increased massively (by nearly 1 degree centigrade in the last forty years) and is expected to increase even more in the coming years. This has led to melting of glaciers and rising of sea-levels and other grave environmental damages, the effects of which can be seen to be felt by different regions of the globe (Carraro, Katsoulacos and Xepapadeas 2013).

Counterarguments to the Negative Implications


However, the increase in standard of living and the changes in economic aspects, reflected by the changes in the demand and consumption pattern does not always be seen to be detrimental to the overall environmental aspects of the country. The relationship considerably depends on the governing authorities of the countries and their perceptions regarding the importance of protection of the environment and how to do the same. There are many countries in the global scenario, which with the increase in the economic development and standard of living of the population, have become more concerned about the environmental aspects. One such example is Canada. Being one of the most developed nations across the world, with people enjoying high standard of living, is also one of the greenest countries in the global scenario, with special emphasis being put by the government on the preservation of the biodiversity and environment (Therivel and Paridario 2013). Various restrictions have been implemented in this country, to facilitate environment friendly operations of the industries, especially manufacturing industries. Australia can also be seen to be shifting fast towards the replacement of usage of non-renewable, pollution causing energy sources by those of the clean and renewable energy sources like solar, wind and other forms of energies. Many countries can also be seen to be imposing Carbon Tax on the industries to induce them in designing their operations in environment friendly ways (Lewis 2013).

From the above discussion, it can be asserted  that in spite of several outliers, the increase in the standard of living has in general has considerable economic implications, primarily in terms of increasing industrial and manufacturing activities across  the globe, mainly to meet the increasing demands of the population, thereby negatively affecting the environment and in spite of several outliers and measures taken by the different countries, the effects still can be seen to be negative as a whole, with the issues of global warming, high air and water pollution and other environmental damages still persisting and the same can be seen to be more aggravated in the emerging economies, which have been experiencing manufacturing booms in various sectors in recent period (Sadorsky 2014).


The increase in the living standards not only have implications on the economic aspects but also on the social aspects of the countries and the world in general (Buhaug and Urdal 2013). One of the primarily social implications of the increasing standard of living is that of increasing habit of travelling, among the population across the globe. With the increase in the economic abundance and with improvement in the standard of living, the extent of both domestic as well as international travelling has increased among a major share of population of the world, especially of those of the developed as well as developing counties. These include both pleasure as well as work-related travels. These travels, especially international travels, are mostly done using the air and marine routes, that is by aircrafts or ships. This in turn creates immense negative implications for the overall conditions of the environment. Increased aviation leads to emission of heat, noise, gases and particulates to the environment, which leads to global dimming and climate change. As can be seen between 1990 and 2006, in the European Union itself, the greenhouse gas emissions from aviation solely, has increased by 87% thereby contributing to the global pollution and increase in the temperature (Levy et al. 2012). On the other hand, increased marine travels leads to huge spilling of oils and harmful waste materials into the oceans and seas, which not only pollutes the water but also harms the aquatic habitat and organisms severely.

Examples of Countries Implementing Environmentally-Friendly Policies

However, there remains some opinions countering the above argument, which assert that in the contemporary period, with more awareness being created regarding the environmental pollution and its implications, the traveling methods (both air and water) have been becoming more sustainable (Doran and Larsen 2016). The environmental committees have been designating various water regions as Emission Control Areas, with emission being bounded to an upper limit, above which the ships are highly taxed. To comply with these restrictions sustainable methods have been implemented by the shipping methods and many of them are shifting to the usage of renewable energy resources (Merkisz, Pielecha and Radzimirski 2016).


In spite of several measures taken by the government and environment protection committees across the world, air and water pollution can still be seen to be dangerously high and a significant share of this pollution can be seen to be contributed by the consistently increasing travelling, both domestic as well as international, which in turn has been facilitated to a huge extent by the rising standard of living of the population in the general global framework. The sulphur and NOx levels in the water as well as the level of polluted particles and gas in the air can still be found to be high, thereby damaging the global environment considerably (Fisher-Vanden and Olmstead 2013).

From the above discussion, it can thus be concluded that the increase in the overall standard of living in the world as a whole, has several implications on both economic as well as social domains, which in turn affects the environmental conditions of the world, mostly negatively. While the economic effects include increase in manufacturing activities, due to the changes in consumption and demand patterns which damages environment, the social effects include that of the increase in the travelling activities, both domestic and international, by air as well as by water routes, for which the environment is also damaged. Although there are several instances showing opposite trends, in the generalised global framework, however, the social and economic effects arising out of an improving standard of living are usually detrimental to the overall environmental conditions of the globel.

References

Buhaug, H. and Urdal, H., 2013. An urbanization bomb? Population growth and social disorder in cities. Global Environmental Change, 23(1), pp.1-10.

Carraro, C., Katsoulacos, Y. and Xepapadeas, A. eds., 2013. Environmental policy and market structure (Vol. 4). Springer Science & Business Media.

Diener, E., Tay, L. and Oishi, S., 2013. Rising income and the subjective well-being of nations. Journal of personality and social psychology, 104(2), p.267.

Doran, R. and Larsen, S., 2016. The Relative Importance of Social and Personal Norms in Explaining Intentions to Choose Eco?Friendly Travel Options. International Journal of Tourism Research, 18(2), pp.159-166.

Ezeh, A.C., Bongaarts, J. and Mberu, B., 2012. Global population trends and policy options. The Lancet, 380(9837), pp.142-148.

Fisher-Vanden, K. and Olmstead, S., 2013. Moving pollution trading from air to water: potential, problems, and prognosis. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 27(1), pp.147-72.

Levy, J.I., Woody, M., Baek, B.H., Shankar, U. and Arunachalam, S., 2012. Current and Future Particulate?Matter?Related Mortality Risks in the United States from Aviation Emissions During Landing and Takeoff. Risk Analysis, 32(2), pp.237-249.

Lewis, J.I., 2013. Green innovation in China: China's wind power industry and the global transition to a low-carbon economy. Columbia University Press.

Merkisz, J., Pielecha, J. and Radzimirski, S., 2016. New trends in emission control in the European Union. Springer.

Muller, N.Z., 2014. Boosting GDP growth by accounting for the environment. Science, 345(6199), pp.873-874.

Sadorsky, P., 2014. The effect of urbanization on CO2 emissions in emerging economies. Energy economics, 41, pp.147-153.

Shindell, D.T., 2015. The social cost of atmospheric release. Climatic Change, 130(2), pp.313-326.

Therivel, R. and Paridario, M.R., 2013. The practice of strategic environmental assessment. Routledge.

Yeates, N. ed., 2014. Understanding global social policy. Policy Press.

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