Tag: "environmental footprint"

Sniffing Out Bad Environmental Policies Is Much Like Culling Rotten Produce

When buying produce, we’ve found ways to discern which pieces are worthy to place in our basket. Each piece of fruit or stalk of vegetable must be of good quality to justify spending our hard-earned income on it. So we look, we sniff and we gently squeeze them in order to cull the unripe or rotten pieces and glean the good ones.

Perhaps we should use a similar approach when evaluating the competing environmental proposals proffered by various organizations. We should carefully sniff out the rotten assumptions and gently squeeze the reasoning of their justifications in order to glean which proposals might be worthy of our real sacrifice in national treasure and personal freedoms.

For example, consider the World Bank’s proposals for reducing man-made influences over global climate change. Like most other organizations, they stress the urgency for all nations to take immediate, coordinated actions to reduce carbon emissions. However, they stress that the needed sacrifices should not be shared equally among the nations.

Upon closer inspection, the World Bank’s policy recommendations reveal intellectually unripe assumptions that employ ethically rotten reasoning to justify them. For example, in the World Development Report 2010, the President of the World Bank stresses that,

Developed countries have produced most of the emissions of the past and have higher per-capita emissions. These countries should lead the way by significantly reducing their carbon footprints and stimulating research into green alternatives.

First, consider the intellectually unripe assumption that per-capita carbon emissions are an appropriate basis for determining relative global warming culpability across the nations, and to identify which nations should bear the brunt of costly remediation efforts.

Let’s remember that carbon emissions result from economic activity. All else equal, greater economic activity in a nation’s economy creates greater carbon emissions per capita, but also greater prosperity (output per capita) for its citizens enjoy.

Humanitarians should want the citizens of all nations to become prosperous, but to achieve their prosperity with the smallest environmental footprint possible. Therefore, would not an intellectually ripe indicator of culpability be carbon emissions per-dollar of economic output?

Using this perspective, we could identify the various institutional characteristics among the nations that tend to create a “greener” prosperity, which would then better inform the efforts of environmental policy makers. For example, I point out in an earlier blog post that countries pursuing prosperity through free markets rather than through centralized planning consistently produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, per dollar of GDP.

Second, consider the ethically rotten policy implications that this intellectually unripe measure would likely create: In order for a nation with heavy carbon emissions per capita to reduce its culpability in global warming crimes against humanity, it must make relatively greater sacrifices. It must decrease its economic activity using current technologies and divert significant portions of its national treasure towards developing “green” technologies. Nations with lower per-capita emissions would not be called upon to sacrifice as much.

This means a country like China, which has an economy similar in size to the U.S. but generates 43% more total carbon emissions, would be expected to sacrifice less than the U.S. Why? With its 2 billion citizens (6 times the 325 million U.S. citizens), Chinese carbon emissions per capita are still far lower than the U.S.

This ethically rotten perspective ignores the fact that China has produced far more carbon emissions per dollar GDP than the U.S. As a result, Chinese citizens bear a much lower level of prosperity (output per person) than U.S. citizens, despite having imposed a far larger total environmental footprint than the U.S.

Using per-capita carbon emissions as an indicator of climate change culpability?  Hmm… I think I smell something rotten in Denmark.

A Reevaluation: Does Environmentalism Necessarily Mean Radicalism?

What does the average citizen think of when they hear the term environmentalist?

Answer: a tree-hugging, bulldozer-sabotaging, disobedient hippie, who hates modernization and technological innovation. However, while these connotations may apply to some (very few) environmentalists, I assure you that this is a completely skewed and absurd definition.

Nevertheless, environmentalists have understandably earned this bad reputation over years as a result of their ever-increasing radical approaches. In cahoots with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), they have repeatedly blocked legislation that would have created jobs and improved the economy. Although I consider myself environmentally-friendly, I shy away from terming myself an “environmentalist” due to all of the negative connotations that come along with the label.

However, a point of clarification needs to be made with regards to the term. Here is Britannica Encyclopedia’s definition ofenvironmentalism:

Environmentalism is a political and ethical movement that seeks to improve and protect the quality of the natural environment through changes to environmentally harmful human activities; through the adoption of forms of political, economic, and social organization that are thought to be necessary for, or at least conducive to, the benign treatment of the environment by humans; and through a reassessment of humanity’s relationship with nature. In various ways, environmentalism claims that living things other than humans, and the natural environment as a whole, are deserving of consideration in reasoning about the morality of political, economic, and social policies.

Often times, environmentalists tend to focus on one issue at a time, such as climate change or conservation or pollution. As a result of this myopic perspective and a manipulation of the above definition, environmentalists solely intend to limit human interaction with the environment. Thus, they have earned their title as unreasonable and radical. However, if environmentalists want to actually take effective action, they need to reevaluate their objectives and start working with human interaction in the environment, “[reassessing] humanity’s relationship with nature.” Additionally, they need to have an agenda broader than simply one target issue.

Thus, if environmentalists choose to operate within the bright green framework, which encourages technological innovation and economic growth, they will be more effective in their wider range of feats. Furthermore, by aligning themselves more closely to the definition of environmentalism and avoiding radical, perverted interpretations, they will also garner a more favorable reputation.

Tanner Davis is a research associate at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Brazil’s Environmental Policy: A Model for the United States?

In a 2009 study conducted by the Public Library of Science on the evaluation of the relative environmental impact of countries, Brazil ranked 1st on a scale measuring absolute composite environmental rank. The study’s methodology used a lower rank to correlate with a higher negative impact. Thus, Brazil had the highest overall negative impact on its environment of any country. According to this study:

  • National Forest Lost Rank: 1st
  • Natural Habitat Conversion Rank: 3rd
  • Marine Captures Rank: 30th
  • Fertilizer Use Rank: 3rd
  • Water Pollution Rank: 8th
  • Threatened Species Rank: 4th
  • Carbon Emissions Rank: 4th
  • Absolute Composite Environmental Rank = 4.5 (1st)

While these numbers appear bleak for the country that just hosted the World Cup and the Olympics in two years, Brazil, according to the Economist, has become the world leader in reducing environmental degradation in recent years.

In the 1990s, Brazil felled rainforest the size of Belgium annually. However, in the past decade, Brazil has reduced deforestation by nearly 70 percent in the Amazonian jungle. If deforestation had continued at its 2005 rate of 19,500 km2 per year, an extra 3.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide would have been emitted. Thus, Brazil could also be viewed as a pioneer for climate change mitigation. Unlike other countries, such as Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Brazil has been able to slow and stop these clearances. The reason for its success has been a result of incremental efforts in three stages.

  • Stage 1 (mid-1990s – 2004): The Brazilian government implemented its first bans and restrictions, one of which stated that on every farm in the Amazon, 80 percent of the land had to be set aside as a forest reserve. However, this was the worst period of deforestation because the share was so high that farmers could not comply with the code.
  • Stage 2 (2004 – 2009): The government, making deforestation a priority under president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, banned farming in nearly half of the Amazon rainforest, as opposed to the original ban on only one-sixth of the area. Additionally, buyers of Brazil’s soybeans declared they would not purchase crops on land cleared after July 2006, discouraging deforestation.
  • Stage 3 (2009 – present): The government banned farmers in the 36 counties with the worst deforestation rates from getting cheap credit until rates fell. Furthermore, a proper land registry, which required that farmers report their properties’ boundaries, was created.


Clearly, as the graph above reveals, Brazil has had great success over the last decade at protecting its forests and preventing deforestation. More amazing, even with these regulations to improve environmental degradation, Brazil has had a dramatic increase in food output. Thus, Brazil is proof that a country can achieve environmental and economic gains simultaneously. Although these government regulations would not likely succeed in the United States, perhaps Brazil serves as a model for the U.S. for its priority on environmental protection.

Although forest composes less percent area of the U.S. than it does in Brazil, protecting the infrastructure, creating more efficient energy resources, and improving resource management in the U.S. would serve useful for the economy and the environment. Additionally, as Brazil is proof, improving the environment does not necessarily mean hindering the economy. While regulating carbon emissions in the U.S. will likely cause more economic turmoil, using the bright green framework as the basis for future environmental policy may have success from both the economic and environment perspectives.

Tanner Davis is a research associate at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Compact Mixed Use Developments Do Not Help the Environment

Compact mixed-use developments are the latest development fad. While such developments promise environmental benefits, the reality is often far different. Two of the largest mixed-use developments in the United States have had limited environmental benefits.

Proponents often cite the fact that mixed-use development residents drive less as an environmental benefit. However, since most car emissions (90-95%) come from cold starts and occur in the first 15 minutes of a trip, the number of miles driven is much less important then the act of driving itself. Reducing the distance driven has a very minimal effect on pollution.

One major redevelopment project is Atlantic Station in Atlanta, GA. Atlantic Station is a new mixed-use development built on an abandoned, polluted steel mill. Cleaning up the steel mill itself, which was a superfund site, clearly had major benefits. But the day-to-day benefits of the mixed-use project are less clear. Despite being located just north of the transit-friendly Midtown area of Atlanta the project was not designed to be transit accessible. All residences come with underground parking and most residents commute to work by car. A bus connecting the development with the MARTA heavy-rail system was discontinued because of lack of use.

Most of the residents of the project moved from other mostly suburban areas of Atlanta but since much of Atlanta’s employment is north of the development, residents may not be driving any less than when they lived in the suburbs. The commute to the Perimeter North Area of Atlanta, which has the largest concentration of jobs in the Southeast U.S., is 13 miles from Atlantic Station. Yet it is only 11 miles from the suburb of Alpharetta, 8 miles from Roswell and 5 miles from Brookhaven. Yet many of these suburban residents who moved to Atlantic Station commute to the Perimeter for employment. And since they cannot reach transit, they commute by car. As a result, no more folks are using transit, and some of the Atlantic Station residents are commuting longer distances than when they lived in the suburbs.

The city of Hayward in the San Francisco Bay area has replaced its affordable housing with a new transit-oriented mixed-use development near its Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station. The principle of a transit-oriented development is that most commuters will walk to work or use transit which reduces transportation emissions. However, most of the residences are only affordable to those earning six figure salaries, while most of the employment is in the low-wage service sector. As a result, most of the residents and the workers must commute to their jobs. While approximately 30% use transit, the remaining 70% commute by car. This 30% is still a higher share than the 10% who chose transit when they lived in the suburbs. Perhaps 30% of the retail workers at the development commute by transit, a share not much higher than the San Francisco average.

However, the situation is reversed for the low-income residents. Displaced to the suburbs because their homes were demolished or because their taxes increased so much that they could no longer afford to live in their homes, they now rely on transit which is very limited in the suburbs. When they lived in Hayward, 70% of them rode transit and 30% of them drove. Now displaced throughout the suburbs, only about 10% of them can reach their jobs by transit; 80% now drive and 10% lost their jobs because they could not reach them by transit and could not afford to buy a car. As a result the actual number of people using transit at the Hayward site has actually decreased. More folks are driving, producing more emissions.

There may be lifestyle benefits from building mixed-use developments, but a significant reduction in emissions is not one of those benefits.

Profiling Environmentalism (Part 3)

In “Profiling Environmentalism,” Tanner Davis wrote in this blog that we should all support environmentalists that he labeled the Bright Greens: optimistic folks who exhibit a strong faith that technological innovations and entrepreneurship will help create prosperity with an ever cleaner ecological footprint.

In “Profiling Environmentalism 2,” I followed that these “Brights” understand how economic development is necessary for creating ecological innovations in technology. However, any virtuous cycles between economic progress and ecological innovations requires: 1) that demand for environmental quality increases with prosperity, and 2) that institutions in society must reward entrepreneurial activity that makes environmental quality effective and affordable.

I also noted that Bruce Yandle, et. al. reviewed the sizable literature relating a nation’s prosperity to its environmental quality. They state that while such a link has yet to be proven empirically, studies failed to control for how a nation’s political and economic institutions may affect the development of innovations that promote “green” productivity.

Could enviro-entrepreneurship and innovation be either encouraged or discouraged by a nation’s economic institutions? Would protecting private property rights, upholding the rule of law, and maintaining low levels of government intrusion by excessive regulations and taxation influence the pathway that a nation chooses to pursue its prosperity?

Fortunately, measures of these institutions are collected over 150 countries in the world, and then are aggregated into a country-specific metric called the Economic Freedom of the World (EFW) index. The EFW index, created by Jim Gwartney and Bob Lawson, is published annually by the Fraser Institute.

The freest countries in 2014 include Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, and Switzerland. While Canada is #8 and Australia is #10, the U.S. is only #17. The least economically free countries include Venezuela, Myanmar, Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe.

When a nation’s economy works to feed, clothe, shelter and educate its citizens, this economic activity will impact the environment through air and water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and depletion of its supplies of natural resources. We can track these measures for each country using the World Bank’s “World Development Indicators” dataset. But the question is: what economic institutions promote the “greenest” pursuit of prosperity and leave the smallest ecological footprint possible?

Figure 1 and Figure 2 represent data from all the nations for which EFW index values and the ecological variables were available. These countries are sorted into quartiles according to their EFW index value, from the least free to the freest countries. Clearly, the level of air and water pollution that is emitted per dollar of GDP produced is LOWER in those nations that pursue free enterprise prosperity with greater economic freedoms.



Likewise, Figure 3 shows that economically freer countries emit FEWER greenhouse gasses per dollar of GDP produced. Further, energy consumed by the vast majority of countries is produced by burning non-renewable resources like coal, natural gas and oil. This means those countries with a lower consumption rate per dollar GDP are practicing a more sustainable growth path towards prosperity. Figure 4 shows that the energy consumed to make a dollar of GDP is LOWER in nations with more economic freedom.

CO2 emitted

energy use

The smallest ecological impact per dollar of economic activity does not appear to arise from the planned economies of socialism or communism. Greater environmental quality and sustainable growth paths to prosperity appear to be more prevalent in countries where the invisible hand is free to “guide” individuals to produce and exchange their products and services in a decentralized market system — established and preserved with greater economic freedoms.

Let’s all be “Bright” about creating our future.

Profiling Environmentalism (Part 2)

Tanner Davis wrote an intriguing article in this blog titled, “Profiling Environmentalism.” He proposed that environmentalists generally fall into three categories:

  • Light Greens: mildly optimistic folks who encourage individual consumers to take small (but in the aggregate helpful) actions to raise environmental quality.
  • Dark Greens: quite pessimistic folks who fear the inevitable environmental destruction as industrialization spreads throughout the global economy. To save the planet, these folks spurn technological advances and seek to abandon modern life.
  • Bright Greens: very optimistic folks, as described by Alex Steffen, who exhibit a strong faith in further technological innovations and examples of entrepreneurial zeal to create prosperity with an ever cleaner ecological footprint.

Davis favors these Bright Green folks, as they embrace the pursuit of human well-being through economic development and environmental well-being through smaller ecological footprints. I heartily agree.

In fact, the “Brights” may inherently understand that economic development is necessary for creating ecological innovations in technology. However, whether a virtuous cycle between economic progress and technological innovation will continue enhancing environmental quality depends on at least two important things:

  • The desire for environmental quality increases with prosperity (individual income), and
  • The institutions in society effectively reward entrepreneurial activity that makes environmental quality affordable for those who seek both prosperity and a “greener” world in which to live.

The idea of an Environmental Kuznet’s Curve (EKC), where higher levels of prosperity in a society initially causes environmental quality to decline, but then eventually causes it to increase again after some level of prosperity is achieved, has been bantered about the economics literature for some time. Many economists don’t believe that the inverted U-shape relationship between prosperity and environmental quality exists, as many different empirical studies have simply not been able to create conclusive results.

However, as Bruce Yandle, et. al. points out in a survey of EKC articles, a nation’s institutions can have significant impact on the rate and quality of technological innovations. This can alter the pathway to prosperity that a developing nation chooses to pursue, which may cause either environmental degradation or improvement. Yet no studies appear to effectively control for this possibility.

If true, then this may be why one developing country exhibits terrible environmental impacts while another country preserves environmental quality, despite their pursuing relatively similar growth paths toward economic prosperity. Perhaps if we could control for institutional differences between these countries, we could identify whether an environmental EKC exists, and whether there are “greener” pathways for all countries to achieve prosperity.

Stay tuned, faithful readers, for “Part 3″…

New IPCC Report: Death and Destruction!

The IPCC’s latest report (Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability) and it’s full of observations and predictions of calamity is now available.

Just a scan of the news headlines reveals the catastrophe once again forecast by the IPCC: Climate change to leave no one on planet ‘untouched,’ IPCC chief, New Climate Change Report Warns of Dire Consequences, New U.N. Report: Climate Change Risks Destabilizing Human Society, Climate change a threat to security, food and humankind – IPCC report, Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come.


The IPCC may be full of gloom and doom, but not everyone is on board. Joseph Bast over at Forbes looked at the 8 main risks in the report that the IPCC listed as “reasons for concern.” He puts them alongside conclusions from the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). Founded by atmospheric physicist Fred Singer, the NIPCC’s scientists assess global warming science and conduct independent reviews of the IPCC reports.

Just a few examples of the differences between the IPCC and NIPCC reports:

  • Food insecurity? Yes, says the IPCC. Little or no risk, says the NIPCC.
  • Severe harm for urban populations due to flooding? Yes, says the IPCC. No, says the NIPCC.
  • Systemic risks due to extreme weather events? Yes, says the IPCC. There is no support that precipitation in a warmer world becomes more variable and intense, says the NIPCC.
  • Risk of mortality, morbidity, and other harms? Yes, says the IPCC. No, says the NIPCC: Modest warming will actually result in a net reduction of human mortality.

The NIPCC reports are peer-reviewed, produced by scientists from 20 countries around the world, and cite thousands of peer-reviewed studies. The latest report is over 1,000 pages, and anyone can go online and view them.

Bast asks,

So is man-made global warming a crisis? Don’t just wonder about it, understand it yourself. Read one or a few chapters of one of the NIPCC reports, and ask if what you read is logical, factual, and relevant to the debate. See if the UN or its many apologists take into account the science and evidence NIPCC summarizes, and then decides whether its predictions ‘of death, injury, and disrupted livelihoods’ is science or fiction.

Matt Ridley over at the Wall Street Journal notes that the IPCC report predicts 70 percent more warming by the end of this century than the best science actually suggests. He then asks — what distinguishes the global warming “crisis” from the other crises we’ve been warned about in the past?

There remains a risk that the latest science is wrong and rapid warming will occur with disastrous consequences. And if renewable energy had proved by now to be cheap, clean and thrifty in its use of land, then we would be right to address that small risk of a large catastrophe by rushing to replace fossil fuels with first-generation wind, solar and bioenergy. But since these forms of energy have proved expensive, environmentally damaging and land-hungry, it appears that in our efforts to combat warming we may have been taking the economic equivalent of chemotherapy for a cold.

Almost every global environmental scare of the past half century proved exaggerated including the population “bomb,” pesticides, acid rain, the ozone hole, falling sperm counts, genetically engineered crops and killer bees. In every case, institutional scientists gained a lot of funding from the scare and then quietly converged on the view that the problem was much more moderate than the extreme voices had argued. Global warming is no different.

Are we really willing to transform our economies based on reports derived from faulty, ill-constructed models? Unless more people delve into these IPCC reports and look at the evidence presented by the NIPCC and others, we’re likely to do just that.

Endangered Species Act: The Semantics of Being “Endangered”

If you are a land owner, pour yourself a cup of coffee, tea, or favorite adult beverage and have a seat. I want you to imagine yourself in a difficult personal scenario and then ask you a seemingly simple but important question that may take some time and focus to comprehend and answer… Now then, take a sip. Ready?

Assume you are about to face a serious loss of economic prosperity due to a federal or state “cease and desist” order on the economic activity you were performing whilst using your privately held land or other natural resource. Assume further that you weren’t causing any harm to anyone else’s health, welfare or private property. Instead, you were found to be causing harm to a protected and endangered wildlife species that is listed under section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973.

OK… This would be a very undesirable financial situation for you and your family to be in, to be sure. But it also would be a very understandable public concern over your causing the possible elimination of an entire species. Pondering a heavy moral dilemma such as this may just require another sip from your cup.

Yet, as you begin to contemplate rearranging your whole life just to save a species of small, furtive bird, or seldom seen fish, wouldn’t you want to at least be assured that the government has made certain that your economic actions were indeed harming a distinguishable “species” that was rare enough, and had a projected future fragile enough, to warrant all the economic harm that will surely descend upon you?  

Certainly, all human activity has some impact on the world’s flora and fauna. The least the government could do is assure you that their taxonomy of “species” to determine the relative scarcity that they claim is being aggravated by your economic activity was adequately defined and broadly accepted within the scientific world. Right?

OK… Take another sip — you’ll need it. The federal legal process for listing or delisting a species as endangered is clearly written, assuming the definition of what constitutes a separate species is well defined. However, it happens that any definition of “species” that the government might choose to use for assessing which ones are scarce enough to warrant listing as “endangered” will garner little consensus from across the biological sciences. Why? Because there is no real agreement among scientists as to what constitutes the proper definition of a distinct “species.”

Oh, my. I’ll give you a moment to clean up that sudden burst of drink sprayed all over your video screen…

Yes, this is true. The “species problem” is an ongoing argument amongst scientists for the past century. It seems the problem of speciation, or finding a universally accepted taxonomy of what actually differentiates the various species, has been roiling in the biological sciences for over one hundred years. That certainly isn’t what we were taught in high school biology with the rusty scalpels and dead, smelly frogs.

Which begs the question: If scientists cannot agree as to what defines a distinct “species,” then how can the government determine as to what defines an “endangered” one? The ESA defines an endangered species as being “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” However, it never defines what separates one species one from another, to determine the relative scarcity of a given species. It presumes this definition is commonly understood and broadly supported by science, which it is not.

Take another sip and bear with me, as an example will illustrate my point. The Baltimore Oriole and the Bullock’s Oriole were each once considered to be the same species. They were referred to collectively as the species Northern Oriole. Changes in how scientists perceived the definition of species led biologists to now consider them as distinct and separate species. What if the strain of birds now known as Bullock’s Oriole was rare and nearly extinct, while the strain now known as Baltimore Oriole was vibrant and ever present. Should the ESA stifle economic activity that endangers the Bullock’s Oriole if the “acceptable” definition of species were still considered inclusive, rather than exclusive of the two strains?

I can see you are almost finished with your drink. I’ll let you think about that question for a while, because who knows? Maybe the definition of the Oriole species will again change soon. Go on. Take another sip…

Electric Car Subsidies Distort Market, Without Reducing Pollution

Many states still rely on coal-burning power plants to generate over half of their electricity; electric cars are actually responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions per mile driven than hybrid cars, and are no better for the environment than comparable traditional vehicles. The hybrid Toyota Prius produces less carbon dioxide than the plug-in Nissan Leaf. The highly subsidized Chevrolet Volt in electric mode produces just as much carbon dioxide as it does when it operates in gas mode.

Lithium, the material in electric car batteries, can be resource intensive to mine. Since supplies of Lithium are limited, prices are expected to increase. Further lithium batteries need Copper and Aluminum to work correctly. Mining these elements requires significant chemicals, energy, and water.

Meanwhile conventional vehicles are becoming more fuel-efficient. For the 2013 model year, new cars averaged 23.5 miles per gallon. Cars averaged only 16.0 miles per gallon in 1980. With higher gasoline prices, manufacturers are scrambling to create even more fuel vehicles in the future.

Further, consumers are hardly demanding electric cars. Despite a $7,500 federal subsidy for buyers (and numerous state incentives), Chevrolet sold only 23,000 electric-powered Volts in 2012. The automaker sold more than 10 times as many Chevrolet Cruzes, the company’s gas-powered sister vehicle. By contrast, Ford sells 58,000 F-Series trucks a month.

Further, these programs fail to increase total car sales. Instead, they incentivize buyers to purchase a particular type of car — a Volt instead of a Cruz. Since consumers would buy a car anyway, this subsidy is a waste of precious resources.

Local municipalities like electric vehicle programs since much the subsidies come from federal and state sources. But this is not a federal freebie; it is a waste of taxpayers’ hard-earned money — money that instead could be spent or actual programs that improve transportation of the environment or better yet refunded to taxpayers.

Using Benefit-Cost Analysis to Protect the Environment

Increased use of Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA) could either improve or harm the environment. As usual, the devil is in the details. Since the beneficial (=correct) use of BCA is readily achievable, the political momentum behind increased use of BCA should be seen as an opportunity to improve environmental decision-making. Lobbying efforts and political capital should be directed at appropriately defining BCA practices, and seeing to it that it is used in ways that are consistent with its capabilities. For environmentalists, the alternative is bleak. Opposition would consume more of their precious political capital, and it would give anti-environmentalists another sound-bite to use to attack productive, market mechanism-oriented environmental initiatives. Furthermore, since resisting the political momentum may be futile, incorrect, destructive uses of BCA might then predominate.