RESULTS OF ENVIRONMENTAL
DELPHI ROUNDS I AND II
Panelists were presented several reasons why population growth may led to environmental degradation and were asked to suggest additional reasons.
They assessed each using Scale C below.
Table 5 lists the average of the panel's rating.
1 - of paramount importance
2 - of great importance
3 - of modest importance
4 - of little importance
5 - no effect
Table 8: Some reasons why population may lead to
- 1.7 The drive to improve "standard of living" through consumption
- 1.8 Sheer size
- 2.0 Lack of understanding about the environment
- 2.0 The generation of waste
- 2.0 Diminished carrying capacity of the environment
- 2.0 Increased energy consumption per capita
- 2.2 Increased material use per capita leading to increased global demand for local resources
- 2.9 Increased social stress, breakdown of community values
Panelists were asked to rate the forces that led to changes in environmental quality over the
previous five decades and to asses how these forces might change over
the next 25 years. There were also asked to suggest and rate new such
Table 9: Lists the averages of the panel's judgments on their historic
influence over the past five decades;
Table 10: Lists the averages of the panel's judgement on their future influence using
Scale D below.
1 - Very Important
2 - Important
3 - Marginally important
4 - Unimportant
5 - Counter impact
1 - Greatly increasing in importance
2 - Increasing in importance
3 - Remaining the same in importance
4 - Decreasing in importance
5 - No longer a factor, or mixed
Table 9: Some historic influences on Environmental
Quality in order of importance
- 1.4 World population growth
- 1.7 Lack of availability or use of clean energy generation systems compared to coal, oil, wood, or dung burning
- 1.7 Economic systems that treat the environment as a free good.
- 1.8 Popularization of the automobile
- 1.8 Excessive use of industrial processes that have by-products of toxic wastes, without appropriate attention to the disposal of such by-products
- 1.9 Lack of political leadership, public support or will to address environmental problems
- 1.9 National accounting systems that do not reflect natural resources and environmental damage
- 1.9 Pricing of energy in a way that does not account for its full environmental costs
- 1.9 Lack of adequate waste management in most places in the world
- 1.9 Aggressive forestry
- 2.0 Short term, reductionist, anti-generalist, and reactive policy making with a lack of concern for future generations in most developed countries
- 2.0 Lack of economic incentives for corporation and individuals to be environmentally responsible.
- 2.0 Rise of a "throw-away society" in developing nations
- 2.0 Excessive consumption and contamination of water aquifers
- 2.1 Lack of understanding of environmental interrelationships by average person
- 2.1 Use of chemicals in agriculture
- 2.1 Lack of integrated action among land use planning, family planning, environmental protection, and sustainable development in most places of the world
- 2.1 Excessive farming on marginal lands
- 2.2 The desire by most people to be "modern," and by most nations to "industrialize," and value systems to be anthropocentric
- 2.2 Pricing of transportation, including public subsidies for transportation in a way that does not account for it full environmental costs
- 2.2 Military activity (also in the sense of diverting expenditures from other activities)
- 2.2 Mining and the search for and utilization of raw materials
- 2.3 Urbanization and suburban sprawl
- 2.4 Lack of funds for adequate environmental research, development and related environmental education and enforcement programs
- 2.5 Lack of effective communication among experts and with the public about environmental issues
- 2.6 Lack of academic attention, particularly from economists and social scientists
- 2.6 Fishing practices
- 2.9 Aspects of globalism and or nationalism that lead to loss of local culture and sense of individual responsibility
- 3.1 Lack of ecological ethic in religious values
- 3.1 Natural phenomena (e.g. volcano eruptions, etc.)
- 3.7 Failure to expand human community or habitation into oceans and space
Table 10:Future influence of these forces over the NEXT 25
years in order of importance
- 2.0 World population growth
- 2.2 Lack of adequate waste management in most places in the world
- 2.2 Excessive consumption and contamination of water aquifers
- 2.3 Urbanization and suburban sprawl
- 2.3 Excessive farming on marginal lands
- 2.4 Lack of integrated action among land use planning, family planning, environmental protection,
and sustainable development in most places of the world
- 2.4 National accounting systems that do not reflect natural resources and environmental damage
- 2.4 Lack of funds for adequate environmental research, development and related environmental
education and enforcement programs
- 2.5 Popularization of the automobile
- 2.5 The desire by most people to be "modern," and by most nations to "industrialize," and value
systems to be anthropocentric
- 2.5 Lack of availability or use of clean energy generation systems compared to coal, oil, wood, or
- 2.5 Lack of understanding of environmental interrelationships by average person
- 2.6 Lack of economic incentives for corporation and individuals to be environmentally responsible
- 2.6 Pricing of energy in a way that does not account for its full environmental costs
- 2.6 Excessive use of industrial processes that have by-products of toxic wastes, without appropriate
attention to the disposal of such by-products
- 2.6 Aspects of globalism and or nationalism that lead to loss of local culture and sense of individual
- 2.6 Lack of political leadership, public support, or will to address environmental problems
- 2.6 Short term, reductionist, anti-generalist, and reactive policy making with a lack of concern for
future generations in most developed countries
- 2.7 Aggressive forestry
- 2.7 Pricing of transportation, including public subsidies for transportation in a way that does not
account for it full environmental costs
- 2.8 Economic systems that treat the environment as a free good.
- 2.8 Use of chemicals in agriculture
- 2.8 Lack of academic attention, particularly from economists and social scientists
- 2.8 Natural phenomena (e.g. volcano eruptions, etc.)
- 2.8 Lack of effective communication among experts and with the public about environmental issues
- 2.9 Rise of a "throw-away society" in developing nations
- 2.9 Mining and the search for and utilization of raw materials
- 3.0 Fishing practices
- 3.0 Lack of ecological ethic in religious values
- 3.1 Failure to expand human community or habitation into oceans and space
- 3.3 Military activity (also in the sense of diverting expenditures from other activities)
Panelists were asked to assess new forces and unprecedented events
that might influence environmental quality in the future and to suggest
additional such forces and events.
They were asked for their judgments about the likelihood of occurrence and
impacts of these forces and events over the next 25 years using Scale E below.
Table 11:Lists the averages of the panel's
responses about the likelihood of occurrence of these events within
the next 25 years;
Table 12: Lists these in terms of the future impact (only the responses on future impact are given from the first round, because the second round had a typographical error in Scale E asking impact on population instead of on environment).
Likelihood of occurrence within the next 25 years.
a - almost certain
b - likely
c - even or 50/50 chance
d - unlikely
e - almost impossible
Eventual impact on environmental quality
1 - very positive impact.
2 - positive impact
3 - no impact
4 - negative impact
5 - very negative impact
Table 11:Likelihood of some new forces and unprecedented events that might influence
- 1.9 Wide use of new clean energy generating technologies, producing 10% of total output
- 2.0 Economic competition for certain raw materials, jobs, and markets becomes much more intense; protectionism through tariffs and non-tariff barriers increases
- 2.1 Actual demonstration [irrefutable evidence] of greenhouse warming
- 2.2 Cessation in production/consumption of ozone depleting gases
- 2.3 World per capita GDP grows by a total of 25% from 1990 level
- 2.3 Doubling 1990 levels (as a percentage of GDP) of per capita financing for environmental work
- 2.3 10% reduction, through substitution or other means, in the use of the polluting sources of energy such as coal, wood, and dung in developing countries
- 2.4 Development and wide spread use of plant varieties that thrive in salt or brackish water
- 2.4 National CO2 emission goals established by most nations
- 2.4 Energy prices increase 100% by additional taxation in most developed countries
- 2.5 Observation of a rise in sea level as predicted by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
- 2.5 Transportation prices (public and private) increased 200% by additional taxation in most
- 2.6 GNP/GDP accounting revised in most countries to account for environmental costs
- 2.6 "Sustainable agriculture" practiced by 50% of farms in western countries
- 2.6 Global depression including 20% unemployment in OECD countries for more than one year
- 2.7 Environmental education essentially everywhere
- 2.7 "Congestion tolls" established on most major highways in developed countries
- 2.7 Creation and implementation in essentially every country of economic incentives for corporations and individuals to act in an environmentally responsible way, through mechanisms such as pollution "rights," including prices that reflect environmental costs, etc
- 2.7 Detonation of one or more nuclear weapons in war, terrorist incident, or by accident
- 2.8 Global environmental fund established with payment based on CO2 emissions (Al Gore proposal)
- 2.8 Environmental ethics and sustainability thinking dominates policy of most governments
- 2.9 Reduction of annual greenhouse gases emissions by 25%
- 2.9 Sales of electric cars account for 10% of all new cars sold world-wide
- 2.9 Wide spread planting of genetically engineered trees that mature in 3-5 years
- 2.9 50% of humanity views waste as "immoral"
- 2.9 Primary raw materials prices increased 200% by additional taxation in most developed countries
- 2.9 Pesticide use reduced 50% worldwide
- 3.0 U.N. enforcement against a government, corporation, or institution for violating environment
- 3.0 Most LDC governments institute helpful environmental policies
- 3.0 75% of all waste is recycled in OECD countries
- 3.0 General rise of conservative governments deny most environmental deterioration, exaggerate
extent of progress in protection, and roll back many environmental initiatives
- 3.1 25% decline in per capita meat consumption worldwide
- 3.1 The rise of political power of "green" parties in essentially all countries
- 3.1 50% reduction in waste generation (e.g. Canadian green plan goal)
- 3.2 Commercial demonstration of production of electricity through fusion power process
- 3.2 Revival of spiritual values for most people in the world which includes treating plants and
animals as partners
- 3.3 Widespread war occurs, at least as extensive as World War II
- 3.4 Tropical rain forests stop shrinking
- 3.5 Major volcanic explosion leads to widespread global cooling and crop failure
- 3.9 Eating beef considered immoral in western countries
Table 12:Some new forces and unprecedented events
rated by Scale E for their eventual impact on the Environment
(average responses from first round only)
With the information provided by the panel in round I, some possible future events were judged to be unlikely, but nevertheless potentially effective in reducing environmental degradation. All of these have been considered before and some have been subject to large scale international programs. Without repeating what has been said and tried many times, we asked for novel suggestions about policy approaches that might be practical, and if implemented, improve the probability of these developments. Below is a distillation of the panel's responses:
- 1.7 Doubling 1990 levels (as a percentage of GDP) of per capita financing for environmental work
- 1.7 Most LDC governments institute helpful environmental policies
- 1.7 75% of all waste is recycled in OECD countries
- 1.7 Environmental education essentially everywhere
- 1.8 National CO2 emission goals established by most nations
- 1.8 GNP/GDP accounting revised in most countries to account for environmental costs
- 1.8 50% reduction in waste generation (e.g. Canadian green plan goal)
- 1.9 50% of humanity views waste as "immoral"
- 1.9 Tropical rain forests stop shrinking
- 2.0 Reduction of annual greenhouse gases emissions by 25%
- 2.1 U.N. enforcement against a government, corporation, or institution for violating environment treaty
- 2.1 The rise of political power of "green" parties in essentially all countries
- 2.2 "Congestion tolls" established on most major highways in developed countries
- 2.2 Wide spread planting of genetically engineered trees that mature in 3-5 years
- 2.3 Sales of electric cars account for 10% of all new cars sold world-wide
- 2.3 Development and wide spread use of plant varieties that thrive in salt or brackish water
- 2.6 Actual demonstration [irrefutable evidence] of greenhouse warming
- 2.9 Eating beef considered immoral in western countries
- 3.1 World per capita GDP grows by a total of 25% from 1990 level
2.4.1 Novel policies that could lead to the end
of tropical rain forests shrinkage:
- Total ban on tropical hardwood imports.
- Manufacture pharmaceuticals from cultivated "tropical" plants.
- Ocean farming
- National accounts including environmental costs.
- Restriction on use of unsustainably produced tropical woods.
- Strict laws for replanting for each tree cut.
- Provide technical support, funding, and environmental facilities to countries with tropical rain
- International supervision and national trade of CO2 discharge right.
- Global fund to substitute governments for lost income from reduced logging.
- Rain Forest Guard Program that pays those who destroy rain forests to protect them from others
- Educate to value these forests as natural treasure house of medicines
- Proper valuation of living forests. This can be achieved in part by incorporating natural resources
into the national accounting system. A key factor will be the inclusion of non-market values.
- Policies that adopt new incentives not based on the economic calculus.
- Adopt a forest incentive connect local communities to rain forests to sister communities around the
- Free plants and trees to those who recycle
- Credit for carbon dioxide sequestering. In Canada and many other countries, there are programs to reduce the emissions of "greenhouse gases". Certain industries that emit large quantities of these gases, such as fossil-fuel-burning utilities, are facing new restrictions on production and expansion. -- They have argued that they should receive credit for initiatives they undertake in other parts of the world. For example, a utility in North American could purchase or secure an area of tropical forest that will sequester carbon dioxide to balance new emissions from the utility.
- Debt for Nature swaps. I believe the World Bank and other lending organizations have recognized the value of living forests by retiring portions of a country's debt in exchange for preservation of tropical rain forest.
- Increase the commercial benefits of the living forest.
- Tropical rain forests produce unique biological materials for pharmaceuticals, chemicals, foods and other commercial products. The benefits of these materials accrue to the company
that develops them commercially and establishes patents. Some mechanism should direct benefits to the originating country.
- Agricultural policies that favor harvest of endemic foods (nuts, berries, fruits, etc) over clearing and cultivation of introduced crops and livestock. This could include policies to support
research into rain forest foods as well as marketing and consumer education.
- Support for farm co-operatives This may encourage smaller-scale farming and forestry and direct the benefits to the local people.
2.4.2 Novel policies that could lead to 75% of all waste
being recycled in OECD countries:
- Fines for not recycling; tax relief for those who do.
- Don't collect/dispose of unrecycled garbage.
- Taxes on raw materials and subsidy on recycled materials could achieve this, although it would
make no "economic" sense.
- International supervision and fine of pollution trade.
- Improvements in design of household items utilizing recycled material
- Copy Swedish example of deposit/reimbursement for cans.
- Policies in which waste recycling efforts are shared with both producers and consumers.
- Tax companies and households for waste generated/collected.
- Introduce simple ways for companies and households to separate their waste for recycling.
- ...the best policy for future is to eliminate waste rather than to recycle the accumulated waste. The recent experience in Germany shows that its recycling program has produced 400,000 tons of waste plastic for recycling instead of the expected 100,000 tons. Germany can recycle 80,000 tons (40%) of plastic a year at present, and will have to ship the rest abroad - much of it to Eastern Europe and the Third World. News reports tell of contractors filling false recycling reports, then tipping their loads in dumps. Nowadays recycling costs in Germany are as much as around $9 per pound. By 1997 the German government says it will be able to recycle 800,000 tons of plastic. Even this one example shows limited capacities of 'developed' countries to do recycling within their countries. Even they recycle 75% of their waste, because of its cumulative growth, if unchecked, the remaining 25% will severely affect the environment. Dumping waste, especially toxic, hazardous, nuclear, abroad following the not-in-my-backyard approach philosophy which is fueled by present day economics is a real future issue. I wonder how other respondents see it.
- Full-cost accounting. Policies that support full-cost accounting of waste disposal will generally increase the cost of disposal and encourage waste reduction and recycling.
- Ban the export of waste beyond national borders. This includes solid waste and sewage, but not materials destined for recycling.
- Tradable permits or quotas for waste disposal in international waters.
- Tradable permits are being implemented for companies emitting air contaminants. A similar system based on an international agreement could be applied to companies disposing of waste into oceans and international waterways. A company that recycles waste destined for ocean-dumping would be able to sell or trade its excess quota.
- More opportunities at community level to achieve higher levels of recycling
2.4.3 Novel policies that could lead to sustainable agriculture
being practiced by 50% of farms in more economically advanced
- Compulsory and clear labelling of all food products on whether they have been produced in a
sustainable manner ("Eco-labelling") coupled with strong consumer education.
- Reduction in area of land set-aside under European Community common agricultural policy.
- Proportionate reduction of allowable agricultural imports.
- Heavy taxation on petro-chemical fertilizers and pesticides, even soil loss.
- Global sustainable agricultural awards for new breakthroughs
- Requirement that every farm should generate a 5-year conservation plan subject to regular review
- New scientific methods including bioresources would (in the long term) contribute to sustain able
- subsidy for soil conservation, integrated pest management, polyculture, organic fertilizers.
- Popularization of the way of agricultural planning by macro-coordination science.
- Educate about value of healthier foods.
- Reduce subsidies and let them compete.
- Consumer education favoring produce from sustainable agriculture. This should include a credible
system for consumers to identify produce that meets "sustainable agriculture standards".
- Increase monitoring of toxic chemicals in our environment. There is growing public concern about
the threat of the environment to our health and a sensitivity to chemicals in our food, water and air.
- By monitoring and publishing data on toxic chemicals, pressure will grow to eliminate their
sources, including agricultural chemicals.
2.4.5 Other policy areas:
- All environmental and population policy areas have to be re-invented. Policies that are currently in
effect are completely inadequate for a world that is interdependent and has at its disposal safe and
- Encourage transition from competitive economy to synergetic economy.
- Establish the law of the Life Cycle Assessment in each country.
- Each country publish a forward looking statement every 5 or 10 years.
- Each country should hold an annual "search" conference to assess priorities and review public
- Massive increase in financial support in status of scientific research in tropical biology (NOT
just agronomy or forestry).
- ecological economies (considering nature as a scare natural capital, properly valuing it, allocating natural commons similar to allocating electromagnetic spectrum through the ITU, and ecological taxes, make environment a global security issue, off-set investments that allow firms to remedy environmental damage in one country by cheaper countervailing measures in another, tradeable pollution permits hat fix global emission limits for countries or industrial sectors, reduce import tariffs on environmentally sound technologies, good and equipment, tax breaks for more environmentally sound practices),
- More flexible repatriation limits for income made from these technologies which could provide firms with necessary financial break to enable investments in more costly, green technologies in less developed countries,
- Higher tariffs or taxes on polluting products or technologies, with the revenues collected to be used to subsidize the acquisition of environmentally safe technologies,
- Bulk purchase agreements for a region,
- Purchase guarantees by bilateral, multilateral or regional funding agencies which could
underwrite less developed country purchases of sound technology,
- An international technology bank, funded by country pledges, could acquire the rights to innovative green technologies so as to make them easily available to environmentally less advantageous countries,
- An international center to settle investment disputes could curb restrictive business practices that block environmentally less advantageous country access to sound technologies, such as restrictive licensing arrangements and prohibitively high prices.
- Debt-for-nature swaps.
- Development assistance programs that could also provide additional impetus to green technology transfers. Some of these instruments have already been used. Their efficiency varies.
Issues Report index