Problem

Unconstrained exploitation of natural resources


Experimental visualization of narrower problems
Other Names:
Environmental prodigality
Emphasis on mass extraction of natural resources
Exploitative resource development
Resource profligacy
Environmental plunder
Nature:
A condition in which people are encouraged to deplete resources and degrade environments because they can pass on the costs of doing so to other members of society and/or to other generations. This is because many natural assets are unpriced and so, effectively are "free"; and the prices of natural assets that are priced seldom reflect their full social costs.

The emphasis on developing mass extraction procedures has resulted in the ecological systems in certain areas of the world being plundered by man, employing accessory improvements which facilitate rapid development without consideration for future needs. This has resulted in profound disruption caused by the depletion and inadequate replenishment of the earth's ecological systems. The earth's biological balance has been harmed through indiscriminate use of chemicals, the lack of adequate processes to deal with harmful by-products, and the mismanagement of waste products.

Incidence:
An example is the "cut-and-run" techniques of timber companies in Montana, USA. In 1993, after liquidating much of its valuable timber, one company sold all its land holdings and departed the state leaving hundreds of unemployed mill workers and more than 2,600 square kilometres of heavily logged land. The purchaser was an even more notorious timber company; a university study had found that over the previous ten years, both companies had logged their forests in Montana at a rate nearly three times faster than new trees could grow back. As a result of such practices, western Montana is a checkerboard with huge, clear-cut tracts and muddy rivers.
Claim:
So-called development is frequently centered on some combination of destruction of forests, over-fishing, rapid depletion of minerals, soil erosion, nd poisoning of the land by agri-chemicals. Future generations will be obliged to expend much of their energy in coping with the consequences.
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
23.10.1999 – 00:00 CEST