Ecosystem 101 Essay

Submitted By brab13
Words: 1749
Pages: 7

Saving the Environment, Debating the Costs by Kathlyn Gay is not your typical eco-freako kind of read. This insightful book goes deep into analysis and details of current conflicts between our ecosystem and economics and shares opinions on the situation from all different classes of people. It discusses resolutions that have been taken under in the past, why they failed, and proposes possible solutions that could be executed currently. Saving the Environment, Debating the Costs was a good book because it explains both sides of the environment vs. economics debate equally, detailedly discusses why past resolutions have failed, and shares opinions from all different classes of people. Kathlyn Gay’s book is reputable because it neither favors nor downplays either sides of the environment vs. economics debate, but thoroughly explains both sides’ stances. For example, Gay talks about how environmental controls have prevented loggers from cutting trees in the habitat of the northern spotted owl since it was listed as endangered. With thousands of acres of trees off limits to loggers, the supply of timber became scarce which in turn pushed up the price. Many mill owners could not charge enough for their finished products to pay the high prices for the raw timber. One mill owner had invested more than $1 million but went out of business after his supply got cut off. He says “The only crime we’ve committed is to work harder than most Americans and to risk our lives doing it to provide the products that they rely upon, and now we are being treated like criminals, without a trial. Sentenced to joblessness. It’s totally wrong. This is not what’s supposed to happen in America.” (pg 8) Gay explains that regulations like this make environmentalists seem to favor wildlife over human life which can make them seem like the protagonists to some readers, but she also takes into account the important benefits that an endangered species brings to humankind which could alter the reader’s attitude towards environmentalists. Another example is the property rights debate. Environmentalists believe there is a need for government regulations in order to protect natural resources for the benefit of society. But private property advocates counter “if the public believes certain land is a valuable resource, then the public should be willing to step up and make a contribution for the use or protection of that land and not depend on government funds for that purpose.” (pg 15) Gay explains that private property rights advocates think land-use regulations remove substantially all economic value from property and fear the government taking their land. But environmentalists and activists have explained that “the most important thing to keep in mind is that a major purpose behind much of environmental law is to protect private property rights. These laws protect our health, life, and property from the adverse consequences of somebody else’s pollution and other nuisances imposed on us by our neighbors as they pursue their own interests.” (pg. 26) All in all, Saving the Environment, Debating the Costs is a good book because it is unbiased when discussing both sides of the conflict which gives more insight to the reader rather than from a biased perspective. Another reason Gay’s book is exceptional is because it detailedly discusses why past resolutions to the environment vs. economics debate have failed and proposes new solutions. For example, some miners, loggers, cattle ranchers, and oil and gas producers want to open up more government-controlled acreage to private business. Ranchers in particular have taken advantage of this situation. They pay fees for leasing permits to use the rangeland for grazing and fees are based on animal-unit month. Currently, that rate is less than $2 per animal unit, which critics say is far below the market price for forage and amounts to a government subsidy of $150 million annually for ranchers. The U.S Agriculture Department