Canadian Consulting Engineer

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Environmental policies backfire says Prairies think tank

Environmental Environment

The Frontier Centre for Public Policy in Winnipeg has released a study called "Environmental Policy and Uninte...

The Frontier Centre for Public Policy in Winnipeg has released a study called “Environmental Policy and Unintended Consequences – Eight Case Studies from Around the World.” Written by Ben Eisen and Kenneth Green, the study shows how on occasion things have gone awry despite the best of intentions by environmental policy makers.
The book cites the following case studies;
— “An environmental disaster on Macquarie Island – How the Australian government’s effort to protect local vegetation by destroying the rabbit population on an island near Antarctica backfired and brought the island to the brink of an “ecosystem meltdown” and threatened local bird species with extinction.
–“The great golf cart boom of 2009 – An American subsidy designed to promote the purchase of electric vehicles for the sake of energy conservation was exploited by clever golf cart salesmen who recognized that their products fit under the government’s definition of an electric car. The salesmen began to give away “free” golf carts to consumers, with the entire bill being passed along to the government.
— “Biofuel subsidies – The subsidization of biofuels such as ethanol have led to the destruction of rainforests, increased greenhouse gas emissions, a wasteful use of freshwater resources, and increases in the price of food that hurt the world’s poor.
— “Fuel economy standards, highway fatalities, and increased driving – How fuel economy standards for cars increased driving and helped create the SUV boom.”
The Frontier Centre is a non-governmental think tank based in the Prairies, and is funded largely by trust funds and corporations.
The study’s authors write: “Policymakers need to incorporate the law of unintended consequences in the development of environmental policy; that law demonstrate the need for humility and caution on the part of policymakers when they consider interventions in enormously complex social, economic and ecological systems for the sake of environmental protection.”


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