This week, stock markets thrashed wildly, the Bank of Canada warned
of tough economic times, and the United States languished on recession
watch. Environmentalists aren’t sure whether to grin or groan at this
avalanche of gloomy news.
Common wisdom is that the environment
is a good-times issue, a luxury. When the economy tanks, so do thoughts
of turning green. That happened in the early 1980s and again a decade
later when economic booms turned to busts.
But it’s not that cut
and dried. With little hard evidence to go on, good arguments can be
made that a recession is either good or bad for the environment.
some argue that households or companies that want to prosper should go
green, in a recession individuals can’t spend on energy-saving
appliances or major home retrofits.
Shoppers are more likely to
choose cheap factory-farmed foods over more expensive organic products
and donations to environment groups tumble.