Full text: Expansion, Stagnation und Demokratie - 1982 Heft 2 (2)

ingredients beloved of women's magazines - animals, a strong medical
interest and a readily identiflable villain. It appears to appeal to the most
advanced sociologists and to those who detest change in any form, to
old women of both sexes and to the revolting young of unidentifiable
sex, to the silent majority and the screaming minority, to the young
swingers and to the old danglers. No wonder, then, that the spokesmen
for the developing countries have said to those from the developed
countries: you have enriched yourselves and now you want to stop the
world and want us to get off. We shall worry about the environment
when we have become as rieh as you.
Such reactions are entirely understandable. It is generally true that
the benefits of additional produetion and incomes are greater the lower
the income, and the harm done by pollution is less the lower the level of
industrialization, urbanization and produetion. But it is often cheaper to
design processes that are low in destruetive material discharges than to
try later to modify these wastes and damages, once they have been
generated. There is no reason why developing countries should not
learn from the mistakes of the now advanced countries and avoid
courses of action that they would regret. It has been found that the
additional costs attributable to environmental and health safeguards in
non-environmental projects has ranged from zero to 3 per cent of total
projects costs. Costs are lower the earlier the protective measures are
added to the project design. Increasingly, these protective measures are
being incorporated in the basic design of projects, such as emission
controls for industrial plants. Prevention is much cheaper and more
effective than eure. Sound watershed management, for example, which
protects reservoirs from siltation and floods, costs much less than
rehabilitation of a deforested, eroded watershed.
In order to appraise the detrimental impact of certain policies on the
environment and the costs of avoiding it, the application of social cost-
benefit analysis has been proposed. In the following sections, I shall
discuss its scope and limits.
Cost-benefit analysis and the environment - the problem
"Cost-benefit analysis is a practical way of assessing the desirability of
projects, where it is important to take a long view (in the sense of
looking at repercussions in the further, as well as the nearer, future) and
a wide view (in the sense of allowing for side-effects of many kinds on
many persons, industries, regions, etc.), i. e. it implies the enumeration
and evaluation of all the relevant costs and benefits1." A stream of future
social benefits and a stream of future social costs, properly adjusted for
uncertainties, are discounted by a social rate of time preference and
then compared.
Applied to the environment in underdeveloped countries, the prob¬
lem is how to strike a balance between the benefits of raising the level of
living of the mass of the people in poor countries, and its costs in terms
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