Crawl Across the Ocean

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Success of Environmental Regulation

Matthew Yglesias makes a point I think should be made more often. I often hear people saying things like: 'x years ago, person y predicted that if nothing was done about issue z, then we would have problem q, and here we are now, and problem q hasn't materialized' while failing to note that things were done, and they worked.

Case in point, Mark Perry from the right wing(nut) American Enterprise Institute, puts up a chart showing that levels of various pollutants has declined in the U.S. over the last couple of decades, and takes that as proof that warnings about the hazardous effects from growth in the levels of these pollutants was misguided - while failing to note that the decline largely resulted from clean air legislation of various forms that was instituted in response to those warnings.

This point was made nicely by Taleb in 'The Black Swan' as he pointed out that people who take action that prevents bad things from happening (before the thing is imminent), rarely receive any real reward for their actions - because nothing bad happened nobody pays any attention.

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