Monday, May 9, 2011

UK Economic Recovery poses 'threat to the environment'

This article discusses how the UK economic recovery has had dire effects on the environment. As the economy in the UK begins to shift back towards recovery many environmental factors are being overlooked. With more people wanting to buy new and larger houses outside of the city, people are spreading out and consuming more of the natural resources. The European Environment Agency (EEA) states that if the general public continues to grow and spread out there will be problems with water supply and wildlife. Another cause of these environmental concerns are the increases in international shipping. Since the UK has become increasingly dependent on importing goods, there have been large increases in the amount of transportation services for theses goods. Studies have shown that greenhouse gas emissions have risen by a quarter between the years of 1990 to 2008 due to all the new transportation necessities. These emissions are estimated to raise the summer temperature 2.5% by the year 2050. This presents another problem and scientists estimate that because of the temperature change, there will be higher precipitation during the winter months and a drier climate during the summer months. This can present untold economic devastation to the area due to limitations of precipitation. Grower times for crops would be shorter and less could be harvested, therefore further increasing dependence of imported goods.

This article really brings into the light the importance of understanding what economic growth can have on the environment. With a new influx of money, people will be more likely to purchase more and increase the size of their carbon footprint. I understand that countries are aware of this and support it because buying more helps the economy, however just because it helps the economy does not mean it is ok for the environment to suffer. The article mentioned that tighter restrictions on automobile emissions haven’t been put into place in over 20 years. I think this is where countries need to focus their attention. It is inevitable that with stable gas prices and the increase of money, people will be driving more which means more GHG’s are being emitted. To help decrease these emissions, countries need to have in place better emission standards so that as the times change so can the rules. Twenty years ago, people were not as concerned with their emissions and because of that, the restrictions were not expected to be as low. Hopefully as this new problem has been presented to the UK, the government can respond in time and implement tighter emission restrictions. As for urban sprawl and development, new systems of public transportation should be developed so that people with longer commutes, due to moving away from cities, can be transported more efficiently and reduce individual GHG output. The sooner the UK government gets started fixing these problems the better it will be for the economy and the environment.

--Scott Haines

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