In my economic research on the environment, I’ve come across findings that suggest a relationship between economic growth and environmental quality. The relationship is as follows: Initially, as per capita income increases for a nation, environmental quality tends to suffer at increasing rates. However, once reaching a more prosperous per capita income, environmental quality will increase.
This is similar to how the United States started in the Industrial Revolution. As we industrialized, our concern was not with how much we were polluting, perhaps because we did not know any better.
As our nation has grown to what it is today, we have better incomes and better regulations on the amount of pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and lead, just to name a few.
Perhaps when we look to developing countries, the solution to their pollution problems is to let them grow to be able to afford and implement their own environmental policies. Let’s help these countries grow so that they can help themselves rather than implement harsh environmental restrictions that only keep these countries poor.