Environmental regulation is often cast as a burden on business. Clean air standards smother firms in red tape and stifle economies already facing tough times, opponents say. But what if environmental protection actually boosted economic performance? A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that reducing ground-level ozone (a main component of smog) significantly improved worker productivity. “Our results indicate that ozone, even at levels below current air quality standards in most of the world, has significant negative impacts on worker productivity, suggesting that the strengthening of regulations on ozone pollution would yield additional benefits,” the authors note.http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/daily-mix/why-environmental-red-tape-may-be-good-for-business/article2042951/
How big are those benefits? A back of the envelope calculation suggests that a 10 ppb reduction in the EPA’s ozone standard would translate into an annual cost savings of $1.1-billion, Mr. Neidell said.
Economic benefits from smog free air at ground level? Who'd have thought clean air could improve productivity?
Perhaps Robert Owen would have thought so. - he bought a mill named New Lanark quite some time ago. A couple of hundred years or so....
New Lanark became celebrated throughout Europe, with many leading royals, statesmen and reformers visiting the mills. They were astonished to find a clean, healthy industrial environment with a content, vibrant workforce and a prosperous, viable business venture all rolled into one. Owen’s philosophy was contrary to contemporary thinking, but he was able to demonstrate that it was not necessary for an industrial enterprise to treat its workers badly to be profitable. Owen was able to show visitors the village’s excellent housing and amenities, and the accounts showing the profitability of the mills.His ideas didn't spread even though he prospered while and becuase he treated his employees well .( For one thing, he paid them in coin of the realm instead of in tokens. For another , he didn't employ children of three.)
Often, ideology trumps our own interests - and we behave in self-defeating ways.
It would be in our long term interests to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Why don't we?