Cato Policy Analyst Marian L. Tupy had a cool blog post about how capitalism can be good for the environment.
But wait…don’t private markets and the unregulated pursuit of profit mean the environment’s resources are on the fast-track toward depletion? Don’t they completely lack the incentive to preserve and protect the environment?
The answer is “no.” Markets do indeed have that incentive, and it’s having a significant effect on all our lives today.
Using the popular iPhone as an example, Tupy describes the free market’s dematerialization effect.
Through dematerialization, private companies are incentivized to produce more using less, thereby shifting the consumption of resources into the future.
Today, the iPhone possesses technological capabilities that can replace several larger, less efficient pieces of technology. Cato’s Harrison Moar has created a fantastic graphic to illustrate this point.
Tupy then finishes with this:
PS: If there are other gadgets that you no longer find essential thanks to your iPhone, let me know and we will expand our graphic accordingly: firstname.lastname@example.org
I don’t own an iPhone – or any smartphone – but I think the graphic could be missing a lot.
The reason? iPhone apps, and the unit itself are only becoming more advanced every day; so how many items do you suppose will be “dematerialized” before they had a chance to be invented?
In other words, what technological inventions will now never stand a chance because the iPhone has provided them in “app” form, first?
That’s how dematerialization works, there is no concrete limit to its effectiveness, as the economy grows and innovates, the environment will have untold, unmeasured benefits.