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Developing countries should prioritize environmental protection over resource extraction when the two are in conflict

December 20, 2013
Published in Issues

Planet Debate L-D release
Previous relevant essay by Dr. Minh Luong


Topic Wording

Resolved: Developing countries should prioritize environmental protection over resource extraction when the two are in conflict.

Key Topic Definitions

Developing countries.  Developing countries are generally considered to be countries with a lower living standard, an undeveloped industrial base, and a low Human Development Index. The definition is certainly at least a bit politicized. Wikipedia explains:

A developing country, also called a less-developed country (LDC),[1] is a nation with a lower living standard, underdeveloped industrial base, and low Human Development Index (HDI) relative to other countries.[2] There is no universal, agreed-upon criterion for what makes a country developing versus developed and which countries fit these two categories,[3] although there are general reference points such as a nation’s GDP per capita compared to other nations.

There is criticism of the use of the term ‘developing country’. The term implies inferiority of a ‘developing country’ or ‘undeveloped country’ compared to a developed country, which many countries dislike. It assumes a desire to ‘develop’ along the traditional ‘Western’ model of economic development, which has been imposed on a large part of the world, and which a few countries, such as Cuba and Bhutan, choose not to follow.[4] An alternative measurement that has been suggested is that of gross national happiness, measuring the actual satisfaction of people as opposed to how money-oriented a country is.

Countries with more advanced economies than other developing nations but that have not yet demonstrated signs of a developed country, are often categorized under the term newly industrialized countries.[5][6][7][8]

Developing countries are, according to certain authors as Walt Whitman Rostow, countries in transition from various traditional lifestyles towards the modern lifestyle begun by the Industrial Revolution in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

A longer explanation is available on Wikipedia.

And Princeton University also notes the difficulty with defining the term:

Developing country is a term generally used to describe a nation with a low level of material well-being (not to be confused with third world countries). Since no single definition of the term developed country is recognized internationally, the levels of development may vary widely within so-called developing countries. Some developing countries have high average standards of living.[2][3]

Countries with more advanced economies than other developing nations, but which have not yet fully demonstrated the signs of a developed country, are categorized under the term newly industrialized countries.

The International Statistical Institute does adhere to strict definition based on their Gross National Income. You can find a list of developing countries based on that definition here.  The World Trade Organization also groups countries into developed and developing countries based on specific criteria. You can find the history of the World Bank’s designation here.

Resource extraction. Resource extraction includes any activity that withdraws resources from nature.

Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resource_extraction#Extraction

Resource extraction involves any activity that withdraws resources from nature. This can range in scale from the traditional use of preindustrial societies, to global industry. Extractive industries are, along with agriculture, the basis of the primary sector of the economy. Extraction produces raw material which is then processed to add value. Examples of extractive industries are hunting and trapping, mining, oil and gas drilling, and forestry. Natural resources can add substantial’s to a country’s wealth,[3] however a sudden inflow of money caused by a resource boom can create social problems including inflation harming other industries (“Dutch disease“) and corruption, leading to inequality and underdevelopment, this is known as the “resource curse“.

Beyond the examples cited here, one additional manifestation of “resource extraction” is extraction of genetic material from biodiversity “hot spots” around the world. Based on previous debate topics, this one is highly controversial and is likely see a lot of intellectual action in your debates.

Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, 2005, Fair Future: Resource, Conflicts, Security & Global Justice, eds. W. Sachs & T. Santarius, p. 43

The industrial countries as a whole, but especially Canada and the US, are far better endowed than developing countries with agricultural land and forest.  The potential of developing countries in biotic resources is considerably weaker, despite the higher population density.  But the one exception is in respect of biodiversity.  Of the 25 biodiversity “hot spots”, which have exceptional biological productivity and an abundance of plant and animal species, 21 are to be found in developing countries — such as Amazonia and the South African Cape.  Since biodiversity is a resource for the genetic engineering industry, this uneven distribution may come to weigh politically and economically to the advantage of the South.

Similarly, the hunting of wildlife such as apes is considered resource extraction

John E. Fa, et al, Durrel Wildlife Conservation Trust, 2002, Conservation Biology, Volume 16, No. 1, February, p. 233

Bushmeat hunting is the single most geographically widespread form of resource extraction in tropical forests and can affect the core of even the largest and least accessible nature reserves ( Peres & Terborgh 1995). Game harvests in South America and Africa usually exceed production (Robinson & Bodmer 1999), even in the case of traditional aborigine societies still using rudimentary hunting technology (Alvard et al. 1997). Such uncontrolled exploitation will bring about marked population declines, and eventually the extinction of a number of game species. Coupled with threats from habitat loss, even from historical deforestation (Cowlishaw 1999), global extinctions of the most sensitive species such as primates are likely to occur as an accumulation of local disappearances. This may result in long-term changes in tropical forest dynamics through the loss of seed dispersers, large granivores, frugivores, and “habitat landscapers” such as large forest mammals (Dirzo & Miranda 1991; Chapman & Onderdonk 1998; Wright et al. 2000).

The definitions just cited do essentially describe types of resources that can be extracted but they do not focus on any purpose of the extraction.  There is, however, at least one definition that limit “resource extraction” to that which is for commercial/for profit purposes.

US Security and Exchange Commission, 2012, “Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers,” [http://www.sec.gov/info/smallbus/secg/resource-extraction-small-entity-compliance-guide.htm]

To determine whether it meets the definition of “resource extraction issuer,” an issuer must consider whether it is engaged in the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals. “Commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals” is defined to include the activities of exploration, extraction, processing, and export, or the acquisition of a license for any such activity. The adopting release provides additional guidance regarding the activities. The definition of “commercial development” is intended to capture only activities that are directly related to the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals. It is not intended to capture activities that are ancillary or preparatory to commercial development.

If you can win that the debates should be limited to “resource extraction” when defined as “for a commercial purpose,” the Affirmative arguments will be a bit better because it will be hard for the Pro to argue that people who “live off the land” in developing countries should not be able to utilize natural resources to live. If the use of the resources if commercial/for profit, however, then the Affirmative arguments are better.

Prioritize.  To prioritize one thing is to place it in value over at least one other thing. In this instance, the question is whether or not resource extraction should be prioritized over environmental protection, and vice versa.

When in conflict.  This phrase is particularly important in the resolution for two reasons. First, it prohibits the Con from arguing that environmental protection and resource extraction should be valued equally, as they can with the January Public Forum resolution. Second, it limits the value of arguments such as “resource extraction is not environmentally harmful,” because it only asks the question of what should be prioritized when the conflict occurs (when the environmental damage is bad).  Third, the arguments are limited to the environmental harms of resource extraction compared to the benefits of that extraction.  Other harms of resource extraction (military conflict), for example, do not seem especially relevant.

Environmental protection.  Environmental protection is simply the process of preventing environmental destruction.  Wikipedia explains:

Environmental protection is a practice of protecting the natural environment on individual, organizational or governmental levels, for the benefit of both the natural environment and humans. Due to the pressures of population and technology, the biophysical environment is being degraded, sometimes permanently. This has been recognized, and governments have begun placing restraints on activities that cause environmental degradation. Since the 1960s, activity of environmental movements has created awareness of the various environmental issues. There is no agreement on the extent of the environmental impact of human activity, and protection measures are occasionally criticized.

One important note that needs to be made about prioritizing environmental protection over resource extraction when the two are in conflict is that the resolution focuses the debate on the potential environmental damage from resource extraction and not all of the potential problems that can stem from such extraction.

Affirmative Arguments

There are two basic sets of Affirmative arguments. The first set deals with the environmental harms of resource extraction and the second set deals with prioritizing environmental protection.

There is a considerable amount of evidence that the extraction of natural resources has produced considerable environmental problems, including climate change, biodiversity loss, desertification, and ecosystem disruption.

Arno Behrens, et al, Sustainable Europe Research Institute, 2007, “The material basis of the global economy: Worldwide patterns of natural resource extraction,” Ecological Economics 64 (2007) 444-453, p. 444-5

Human history has always been closely linked to the control, extraction and use of natural resources. Over the past decades, however, demand for natural resources has accelerated to the extent that it is now widely considered a serious threat to the well-functioning of economies and societies due to associated environmental problems such as climate change, biodiversity loss, desertification, and ecosystem degradation (IPCC, 2007; EPA Network, 2006; Stern Review, 2006; Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005; Wuppertal Institute, 2005; WWF, 2004; UNEP, 2002).  The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Synthesis Report (2005, p. 16), for example,  states that “over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, fibre and fuel. This has resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth.”  One of the key sustainability challenges for the coming decades will thus be to improve the management of natural resources in order to reduce current levels of anthropogenic environmental pressures.

And there are many specific examples. Mining is known to cause significant environmental problems.

Arno Behrens, et al, Sustainable Europe Research Institute, 2007, “The material basis of the global economy: Worldwide patterns of natural resource extraction,” Ecological Economics 64 (2007) 444-453, p. 450

From an environmental point of view, it has repeatedly been suggested that the primary sector is generally characterised by higher environmental loads than other sectors (Fischer-Kowalski and Amann, 2001; UNEP, 1999; Mani and Wheeler, 1998). Mining  activities, for example, are associated with large amounts of overburden, water use and energy consumption (Wuppertal Institute, 2005). The use of toxic substances in metal mining, over-fertilisation in agriculture, oil spills on land and water, or land degradation due to strip mining of coal are just some of the many examples of negative environmental impacts associated with the extraction of resources. The end of the value-added chain, on the other hand, is much less polluting and largely located in industrialised countries. The specialisation of developing countries in primary sectors thus tends to lead to an unequal distribution of environmental burden.

Extracting oil resources produces similar environmental problems

Emily Sinnot, et al., The World Bank, 2010, Natural Resources in Latin America and the Caribbean: Beyond Booms and Busts?, p. 52-3

Environmental problems associated with hydrocrabon production are often a result of the disposal of byproducts of the production process. Oil production can also foster the emergence of new social problems through vast migration toward oil-producing areas, not only of workers directly or indirectly involved with oil production, but also of many landless poor who take advantage of new land made accessible by the many roads opened by oil companies.

The high costs of remediating environmental damages caused by improper oil extraction also call for investing in environmentally sound extraction technologies.

And it is not just the removal of the resources that causes the environmental harms. The process of extraction is also very bad for the environment.

Joseph Fiksel, Ohio State University- Center for Resilience, 2006, “A Framework for Sustainable Materials Management,” The Journal of Minerals, Metals & Materials Society, No. 11837, p. 15

Increasing material flows contribute to many of the world’s environmental and social problems. In the near term, sustainable development is threatened not so much by the depletion of non-renewable resources such as minerals or fossil fuels, but rather by over-exploitation of renewable resources and the life cycle impacts or “externalities” associated with material extraction, transport, and utilization. These externalities include potential climate change due to global warming emissions; degradation of air, water, land, and wildlife habitats in industrialized areas; and depletion of natural resources including fresh water, biomass, and topsoil. Hence, there is a need to explore the potential for achieving sustainable materials management (SMM).

Extracting of Bushmeat resources threatens the environment

[Douglas Williamson, Forestry Officer, FAO, 2002, Links between Biodiversity, Conservation, Livelihoods and Food Security: the sustainable use of wild species for meat, eds Mainka and Trivedi, p. 20]

Unsustainable use of wild meat also has negative long-term implications for maintenance of forest biodiversity.  The radical depletion of forest animal species, known as “the empty forest syndrome,” is increasingly prevalent, afflicting even protected areas like the Korup National Park in Cameroon.  Since forest animals play important roles in ecological processes such as herbivory, predation, pollination, seed dispersal and germination, the loss of forest animal species will eventually be followed by the loss of the plant species that depend on them in one way or the other.

The harvesting of animals threatens reductions in biological diversity

Sue Mainka, Species Programs, IUCN, World Conservation Union, 2002, Links between Biodiversity, Conservation, Livelihoods and Food Security: the sustainable use of wild species for meat, eds Mainka and Trivedi, p. 12

Use and exploitation figure prominently among the many reasons for loss of biodiversity.  A preliminary evaluation of major threats to species, applied to 64% of threatened mammals, all threatened birds and 41% of threatened plants, was conducted as part of the 2000 Red List analysis.  Habitat loss/degradation affected 83% of threatened mammals, 89% of threatened birds and 91% of plants sampled.  Direct loss/exploitation affected 34% of mammals, 37% of birds and 7% of plantsThis category was further examined and hunting/trade activities impacted 29% of mammals, 28% of birds but only 1% of plants.  We can see from the data above that the use of wildlife for subsistence and livelihoods is having an impact on birds and mammals at a significant level

Continued resource extraction puts all ecosystems, and even the global ecosystem, at risk

Hariadi Kartodihardjo & Hira Jhamtani, Lecturer University of Indonesia & activist at Institute for Global Justice,  2009, Environmental Politics and Power in Indonesia, eds. H. Kartodiharjo and H. Jhamtani, p. 175

Natural resources management unsuited to environmental carrying capacity and conservation principles leads to ecological crises.  These crises, in turn, cause disasters and result, ultimately, in life space conflict.  Life space is not merely land or a house for habitation, but encompasses all life support systems including air, water, and food and the knowledge and institutional systems that accompany them.  The primary objective of life space management should be continued safety and survival within that space.  Life space conflict arises when this objective clashes with political interests and economic power.  Government and community-level institutional failure complicates the resolution of such conflict.

Continued resource extraction threatens the viability of the planet

Theodore Panayotou, Lecturer-Environmental Policy, Harvard, 2003,Economic Growth and the Environment,” Economic Survey of Europe, No. 2, [http://staging.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/ead/pub/032/032_c2.pdf], p. 45

Will the world be able to sustain economic growth indefinitely without running into resource constraints or despoiling the environment beyond repair? What is the relationship between a steady increase in incomes and environmental quality? Are there trade-offs between the goals of achieving high and sustainable rates of economic growth and attaining high standards of environmental quality? For some social and physical scientists such as Georgescu-Roegen and Meadows et al., growing economic activity (production and consumption) requires larger inputs of energy and material, and generates larger quantities of waste by-products. Increased extraction of natural resources, accumulation of waste and concentration of pollutants will therefore  overwhelm the carrying capacity of the biosphere and result in the degradation of environmental quality and a decline in human welfare, despite rising incomes. Furthermore, it is argued that degradation of the resource base will eventually put economic activity itself at risk. To save the environment and even economic activity from itself, economic growth must cease and the world must make a transition to a steady-state economy.

Pro teams will, of course, also have to answer the arguments as to why resource extraction will reduce poverty.

There is extensive evidence that mining does not reduce poverty

Anthony Bebbington, et al., Professor of Nature, Society and Development, University of Manchester, 2008, “Contention and Ambiguity: Mining and the Possibilities of Development,” Development and Change, Vol, 39, Issue 6, p. 891

Closely related to these observations on growth is the claim that ‘mining has a dismal track record to date in poverty reduction’ (Pegg, 2006: 376). Freudenburg and Wilson (2002) draw similar conclusions from a meta-review of 301 sets of findings on mining and economic development in the USA. These ‘dismal’ effects on poverty are explained in several ways. One interpretation departs from the position that mining is bad for growth: ‘If growth is good for the poor, oil and minerals exports are bad for growth — and hence, bad for the poor’ writes political scientist Michael Ross in an influential report for Oxfam America (Ross, 2001: 9). A second route is through the wider political economy effects of mineral growth. Some argue that the availability of mineral wealth discourages investment to increase labour productivity in non-mineral sectors, leading to underinvestment in education (Pegg, 2006) — although Stijns (2006) argues that with different indicators mineral wealth is associated with greater investment in education. A third position (assumed by the industry) insists that mining is good for growth but still acknowledges that poverty impacts have been disappointing because of poor government capacity and broader governance issues (ICMM, 2006).

And neither does Bushmeat hunting

Bushmeat Crisis Task Force, 2000, Bushmeat: The Crisis in West and Central Africa and Around the World, [http://www.bushmeat.org/cd/fs/BCTFBRIE.pdf], p. 2

Ironically, the short-term economic benefits derived from the commercial bushmeat trade, though expedient for poor families today, may jeopardize long-term economic opportunities for future generations. In addition, increasing levels of contact with wildlife populations may place people in increased jeopardy of contracting and transmitting animal-derived diseases such as Ebola or HIV (See BCTF Fact Sheet on Health), and risks transmitting human diseases that may be lethal to apes and other species.

And even if the Con wins the argument that resource extraction improves the economy, they should not be able to win the argument that economic growth and poverty reductions protect the environment.  (And besides, if they did, resource extraction and environmental protection would not be in conflict in that instance).

The World Bank, 2008, Poverty and the Environment: Understanding Linkages at the Household Level, p. 62

Is local degradation likely to decrease in the near future, particularly if household wealth and incomes rise?  Empirical evidence does not support this oft-made assumption.  Local resource use is unlikely to dramatically decline in rural areas.  One reason why households continue to degrade natural resources is that the impact of slow and small changes in resource availability on welfare is small.  Households adapt to changes in resource availability on welfare is small.  Households adapt to changes in resource availability by, for example, using alternate resources or obtaining their resources from alternate areas.  As long as the opportunity cost of time is low, the welfare impact of degradation is likely to be small.  Thus, better environmental management, increases in non-farm and nonresource-based economic opportunities, and changes in regulatory policies are likely to be important in stemming degradation.

Both the poor and the non-poor contribute to environmental loss.  The lack of markets in some cases and growth in markets in others; poor governance institutional; high discount rates; and population growth all play roles.  Many of the forces that contribute to significant changes in ecosystems originate from macro-economic and policy changes that may have little to do with natural resource sectors. Reducing poverty among resource-dependent households may thus not directly or immediately contribute to improvements in local natural resource use.  There is no substitute for environmental management as a component of practical and strong regulatory framework to ensure sustainability.

Beyond general arguments about the importance of preventing poverty, Pro teams can also argue that the problems created by resource extraction threaten human rights.

Julian Agyeman, et al, Professor Urban and Environmental Policy & Planning-Tufts University, 2002, “Exploring the Nexus: Bringing Together Sustainability, Environmental Justice and Equity,” Space and Polity, 6:1, 77-90, p. 85-6

International calls for justice considerations to be incorporated into sustainability policies usually focus on intergenerational equity and on intragenerational equity between what have been traditionally referred to as the core, industrialized nations in the North, and the peripheral, developing nations in the South.  The notion of justice can be seen in reactions against the social costs of unsustainable natural resource extraction such as the case of the destruction of mangrove swamps by shrimp exporters (Guha and Martinez-Alier, 1999), the environmentally degrading practices of oil companies in West Africa (Adeola, 2000,) and the bio-prospecting of agricultural biotechnology companies (Smith, 1999).  Activists claim that the injustices caused by MNCs represent a major human rights violation against the local people who are caught in the path of globalization, and describe these violations as “ecological imperialism” (Adeola, 2000).  They ague that the right to a clean and safe environment is an important and essential human right that should not be denied on the basis of race, class, ethnicity or position in the global economic system (Adeola, 2000; Sachs, 1995; Harley, 1995; Johnston, 1995).  This argument is reflective of greater concerns for social justice issues in the environmental movement, which is often blamed for paying too much attention to issues of environmental quality, such as nature and biodiversity (important though these are) while other basic human rights, equity issues and needs remain unprotected (Agyeman, 2001).

Teams arguing in favor of environmental protection needs to clearly establish that they are not against all efforts to reduce poverty, but are only arguing that if those efforts conflict with environmental protection that environmental protection should be chosen.  Teams may even be able to get away with arguing that they support all efforts to reduce global poverty that do not undermine environmental protection.  Regardless, I think it is absolutely critical that teams that support poverty reductions are not able to win that you oppose efforts to help the poor.


In addition to winning that resource extraction poses significant environmental harm necessitating environmental protection, Affirmative teams need to win that it is environmental protection that needs to be prioritized over that extraction. Of course, proving significant environmental damage from resource extract is a good start to winning that prioritization debate, but other arguments should be made as well. In this section, I will discuss some additional arguments.

Economic growth.  Continuing resource extraction in a way that is environmentally unsustainable (faster than resources can be replenished) threatens the economy in the long-term because we will eventually run out of resources to extract.  Economies that depend on those resources will then no longer be able to survive.

Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, 2005, Fair Future: Resource, Conflicts, Security & Global Justice, eds. W. Sachs & T. Santarius, p. 19-20

In the first few years after Limits to Growth, the finite natural basis for  human economic activity was seen mainly as a question of finite resources.  Like some earlier figures in classical political economy–from Thomas Malthus through John Stuart Mill to William S. Jevons — the authors of Limits to Growth focused on how, within just a few decades, the depletion of mineral, energy and agricultural resources could undermine the foundations of the economy.  In other words, they conceived of nature as a storehouse of means of production, which was visibly shrinking as more and more was taken from it at an ever-faster rate.  This view of things had an initial impact because it was clear that non-renewable resources, as the name suggests, would come to an end sooner or later under conditions of high demand; the only question was: when?  It is precisely this which has given rise to repeated controversy in the last few decades, since no firm predictions are available.  When oil or mineral supplies run out will also depend on the reaction of the economy to likely shortages ahead, even if — as the “father” of ecological economics, Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, never tired of emphasizing–there can be no doubting the long-term entropic character of the conversion of fossil reserves.  Greater elasticity of the economic system may postpone the time of exhaustion–new technologies may to some extent replace resources, higher prices may dampen demand, and a shift to services may reduce the consumption of raw materials per unit of value creation–but it will not be able to eliminate the prospect altogether.  Thus, the invention of chemical agriculture has shaken Malthus’s predictions, and the development of the service economy has toned down the gloomiest forecasts of the limits to growth.  Unfortunately, however, those warning of ecological disaster repeatedly fall into the trap of taking the present state or trends of technology and the economic structure and projecting them into the future.  If the predicted collapse then fails to take place, the economic smooth-talkers feel in a stronger position and a relieved public honors them as “eco-optimists.”  This debate has recurred at regular intervals in the last few decades–from the dispute between Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon in the United States to the recent controversies in Europe regarding Bjorn Lomborg.  The main conclusion seems to be that it is easy to say that limits will be reached, but difficult to say when.  It might be possible to get by with this dilemma — if nature were no more than a stock of materials for human economic activity.  But nature is by no means only a source of raw materials; it is a basis for life, or rather the basis for life.  Limits to growth may thus appear not only from the side  of resource availability but also from that of the sustainability of life.  The silent effect of nature on the progress of people and societies (including their economy) is all too easy to overlook.  However, the biosphere and the worldwide flora and fauna are nothing other than the relatively thin cover of the globe, which in the interplay of ecosystems and organisms creates the preconditions of life.  The supply of water, foodstuffs and other substances necessary for human and other life is only one part of other substances necessary for human and other life is only one part of this; the other is the maintenance of bio-geo-chemical cycles, both global and local, which assure, the web of life.  Whether through photosynthesis for the nourishment of plants or insects for the pollination of flowers, through ocean currents for the fertility of expanses of land or air pressure for the conveyance of huge masses of water, nature time and time again, at no cost, looks after the founts of all biological existence.  A forest, for example, holds in stock cubic meters of timber that can be sold for the production of paper.  Loss of the forest would entail costs both for its owner and for the timber clients, and so excessive use of the resource becomes an economic problem.  Already before financial costs become evident, however the forest begins to lose its ability to play a part in reproducing the tissue of life.  Less water is filtered and retained, streams become scantier during drought and more violent during rain, the soil erodes more easily, game and then birds disappear, and one fewer means is available to purify the air.  Life-supporting ecosystems thin out if they are overused or so loaded with harmful chemicals that they are unable to regenerate.  This kind of limit is especially applicable to biological resources; the economy is not damaged at first, but large or small areas of nature are rendered less hospitable to the diversity of life — including human beings.

Second, one can argue that the problems of environmental disruptions are disproportionately born by the poor.

Emily Sinnot, et al., The World Bank, 2010, Natural Resources in Latin America and the Caribbean: Beyond Booms and Busts?, p. 3-4

The natural resource may be common property and the exploitation technology may produce negative externalities.  Some resources (fisheries, pools of oil and gas, publicly owned forests) are quintessential common property: they are relatively nonexclusionary (once discovered, it is costly to exclude others from using them) and “subtractable” (if one person uses some of the resource, less is available for others).  Without public or private mechanisms to regulate their use, the frequent result is overexploitation: the tragedy of the commons.  Moreover, even where it may be fairly easy to prevent others from extracting resources–minerals, say — extraction generates wastes that require disposal, often imposing costs on others by polluting water, soil, or air, effectively using environmental services as a public good and creating large negative externalities.  These external costs are often borne by local populations, especially indigenous peoples, who are least capable of dealing with them, and such situations have at times fomented social conflict.

And this is especially true of people in developing countries that bear the brunt of resource exploitation by large multinational corporations.

African Forum and Network on Debt and Development, 2011, Ecological Debt: The case of Tanzania, p. 12

Despite the end of colonialism, the global economic system still facilitates the skewed extraction and exploitation of natural resources that has lead to the excessive plunder and exploitation of mineral resources by Northern Countries.  There has been and there still is, a disproportionate resource flow to the rich nations from the poor nations with very minimal or inexistent environmental,, social or economic redressThe impoverished countries of the south continue to subsidize the rich countries of the north through the provision of raw materials, commodities, labor and other services.  Ironically, the North comprises only 25 percent of the world’s population, yet consumes around 75 percent of global resources.

The drain of natural resources and raw materials has greatly undermined the capacity of Southern countries to move their people out of poverty.  In Tanzania, practices by foreign companies/entities especially in the extractive sector, have been characterized by plunder, exploitation and have left no visible development in the local communities.  Instead of boosting economic growth, these resources have been detrimental to economic development and have caused vast ecological damage.

Third, resource extraction plunders developing countries to support rich countries.

Padraig Carmody, Geography Lecturer-Trinity College (Dublin), 2010, Globalization in Africa: Recolonization or Renaissance?, p. 38-9

Oil prices were also affected by supply constrictions resulting from the war in Iraq, the country with the world’s second-largest reserve of oil (Klare, 2005).  Also, “peak oil” looms, when more than half of the world’s reserves will be exhausted but the global economy expands in the future, so prices will inevitably rise again.  Some refer to the growth dynamic of global capitalism in the context of finite natural resources as generating an “ecological contradiction” (M. O’Connor, 1994, 12).  This contradiction finds geographical expression in the plundering, or what David Harvey (2003, 137) refers to as the “accumulation by dispossession,” of African resources and environments to fuel economic growth elsewhere.  This is facilitated, for example, by planes taking food from Africa to feed Europe while bringing arms in exchange (Sauper, 2006).

And there is the “resource curse” theory that contends that developing countries that grow dependent on resource extraction for economic gain end up becoming dependent on those resources, ignoring opportunities to develop other sectors of their economies.

A specific manifestation of the resource curses is “Dutch disease.” The Dutch Disease theory argues that natural resource extraction undermines a country’s (potential) manufacturing sector because strong natural resource exports will increase the value of the country’s currency relative to that of other countries (the exchange rate), causing the nation’s other exports to become more expensive and their manufacturing sector less competitive.

Anthony Bebbington, et al., Professor of Nature, Society and Development, University of Manchester, 2008, “Contention and Ambiguity: Mining and the Possibilities of Development,” Development and Change, Vol, 39, Issue 6, p. 890-1

At the centre of the resource curse debate is the argument that mining is associated with poor growth performance (Auty, 1993; Freudenburg and Wilson, 2002; Sachs and Warner, 1995; Weber-Fahr, 2002). Several reasons are suggested for this. One is the idea of a ‘Dutch disease’ in which mineral wealth leads to levels of consumption and investment during boom periods that cannot be sustained through subsequent downswings. This brings exchange rate and wage effects that cripple the growth of non-mineral tradable sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing, leading to an economic structure dominated by enclave economies linked to resource extraction. Such effects are commonly observed in mineral-dependent economies (Mikesell, 1997), though it is likely that the extractive sector is not the only factor limiting diversification. Indeed, the introduction of new institutional frameworks favouring a concentration of investment in mining have themselves often been products of broader sets of neoliberalizing policy changes, in contexts as diverse as Central Asia (Clark and Naito, 1998) and the Andes (Bebbington, 2007).

The concentration of activity in one sector of the economy brings with it vulnerabilities associated with export dependence. Vulnerability arises from mineral price volatility, and dependence is reinforced by those upstream economic actors that control processing and marketing of final products derived from the minerals in question. Moreover, mining complexes often take the form of enclave economies, developing relatively few links to local suppliers (to the point where many modern transnationally owned mines bring in food from the capital or overseas through contracts with international catering companies; see for example Szablowski, 2002: 263). As a consequence the multiplier effects in the local and regional economy are weak.

These arguments turn and answer the primary Con argument in favor of favoring resource extraction over economic growth – the development of the economy.

As a component of this argument, teams can argue that there is an ethical obligation to reduce poverty, but they may not wan to make that argument because if the Con wins the economic development/poverty debate then they will have trumped the Con’s impact.

Magnitude.  As discussed previously, resource extraction threatens the environment and the entire biosphere. Pro teams can argue that this large impact outweighs the benefits to resource extraction.

Morality. Pro teams can also argue that there is a moral obligation to protect future generations; if we extract all of the resources out of the environment , there will not be any left for others.


The third requirement is that a way be found to take account of the obligations owed to future generations. It is possible to conceive of present forms of behavior which, while posing only minor hazards and inconveniences on the living, could in their culumative effect over a long period of time pose a serious danger to the unborn.  The test of irreversibility is again useful. Are present actions such that their consequences would not only be harmful to those not yet born, but also a kind which could bot be reversed by them? Destruction of irreplaceable natural resources, permanent contamination of the environment, and the bequest of an excessively large number of people, would be apt illustrations of this possibility.


A good Con team will start their advocacy by minimizing the harm that occurs from natural resource extraction. The goal here is not to win that there is zero conflict between the resource extraction and environmental protection (both because that is unrealistic and also because it is not the question presented by the resolution) but to argue that the environmental impacts are so minimal that it doesn’t make sense to prioritize environmental protection.

There are many ways that the Con can minimize this environmental harm. First, the Con can argue that good planning and design minimize the environmental impacts.

Emily Sinnot, et al., The World Bank, 2010,Natural Resources in Latin America and the Caribbean: Beyond Booms and Busts?, p. 67

Potential environmental impacts can be mitigated, and in some cases avoided, by good project planning and design.  Beyond the design stage, measures to minimize environmental impacts can be grouped into four major categories: tools based on state regulation and oversight, reversal of counterproductive policies, incentives and market-based enforcement, and enforcement by civil society and external stakeholders.  Fisheries management is an interesting case that may combine elements of several of these.

Second, the Con can argue that companies have a self-interest in minimizing environmental damage 

Emily Sinnot, et al., The World Bank, 2010, Natural Resources in Latin America and the Caribbean: Beyond Booms and Busts?, p.

In recent years, many large mining companies have come to realize that it is in their long-term interests to behave in environmentally (and socially) responsible waysIn Chile in the 1990s, for example, while the country was developing its legal and institutional frameworks, large mining companies voluntarily committed to substantive voluntary environmental agreements (IFC 2002).  There is also some empirical evidence that this need not negatively impact companies’ bottom lines.  One study found that top environmental performers among the mining companies worldwide posted returns 60 percent higher over a three year period than those that were classified as poor performers (IFC 2002).  There nonetheless remain numerous instances of negative consequences of mining that  need to be addressed through governmental action.

Third, the Con should contest the claim that environmental destruction presents a systemic threat to human survival.  They can argue that species extinction is not a significant threat. 

Bjorn Lomborg, Professor Political Science, University of Aarhus (Denmark), 2004, The skeptical environmentalist: measuring the real state of the world, p. 249

However, the rate at which species have become extinct has fluctuated over the various periods, and the number of species has generally increased up to our time, as can be seen in Figure 130.  Never before have there been so many species as there are now. The growth in the number of families and species can be accredited to a process of specialization which is both due to the fact that the Earth’s physical surroundings have become more diverse and a result of all other species becoming more specialized. Even so, there have  been several major occurrences of extinction—the best known of these is probably the last break in the curve 65 million years ago when most of the dinosaurs became extinct, but the most serious one occurred 245 million years ago when around half of all marine animals and four-legged vertebrates and two-thirds of all insects were wiped out.

And there are many other reasons that species are threatened with extinction. 

Michael L. Rosenzweig, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, 2001, PNAS, Volume 98, No. 10, May 8, p. 5404 [EBSCO]

Human pressure may greatly accelerate the relaxation process by increasing accidental extinction rates. Various human activities suggest this. We increasingly commingle evolutionarily separate provincial biotas, creating the New Pangaea and introducing native species to predatory and competitive threats from exotics (47). We rapidly transport novel diseases and parasites around the world. We simplify biotic temporal regimes (for example by limiting disturbances such as fire). And we are warming the globe. The National Research Council (44) implicates exotic species or lack of adequate disturbance as the root cause in endangering a significant proportion of threatened U.S. species. But global warming may constitute the worst threat of all: by altering the basic abiotic conditions of reserves, it can destroy their ability to do much of their job. When the earth was covered with contiguous tracts of natural habitat, species could track such changes, moving to keep up with the shifts in location of their favored habitats and so avoiding extinction (48-50). But today, with natural habitats restricted to patches of reserves, this is not possible. Meanwhile, we show little sign of abandoning the destruction of habitat that brings deterministic extinction to species.

The Con also needs make their own prioritization arguments and answer the Pro’s prioritization arguments.

To answer the future generations argument, Con teams can argue that we should not sacrifice current generations to future generations.  In context, this would mean that we should not sacrifice current economic growth to protect future generations.

R. David Simpson, Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future, 2000, Conserving Nature’s Biodiversity: insights from biology, ethics and economics, eds. Van Kooten, Bulte and Sinclair, p. 101

A response to this concern might be that historically it is earlier rather than later generations that have been short-changed.  Few of us would be willing to trade places with ancestors who constantly struggled to forestall death from famine, disease or predation.  The historical pattern has, by and large, been one in which earlier generations pass on to their successors ever greater reserves of technology and knowledge.  No one will deny that the services of nature are and will always be necessary to support human life and wellbeing. Alarmists have not convinced me either that technological advances necessarily threaten the continuing existence of our natural life support system, or that that life support system is in any imminent peril from any source.

To answer any arguments about a moral obligation to protect the environment, Con teams can argue that the moral obligation to reduce poverty is just as great.

Alan Randall & Michael Farmer, Professors at Ohio State, 1995, Handbook of Environmental Economics, p. 32

Duty-based moral theories attempt to identify the moral obligations that bind humans, and the morally correct actions these obligations entail.  Ehrenfeld (1988) offers a solution to the “slick terrain” problem: “If conservation is to succeed, the public must come to understand the inherent wrongness of the destruction of biological diversity.” (p. 215).  Clearly, Ehrenfelds is a duty-based approach: right action is that which respects the moral obligation of human beings to preserve biodiversity. When several considerations have moral force (cannibalism is morally evil, while self-preservation justify cannibalism?) can be resolved only via deduction from higher moral principlesThe slick terrain can be avoided only by asserting that preservation of biodiversity is a first principle, a trump among moral principles, that defeats all others.  Without such an assertion, Ehrenfeld’s “inherent wrongness” does not solve his problem.  Surely, many would argue that enhancing the life prospects of the worst-off people has moral force at least as powerful as that of protecting biodiversity.  Again, biodiversity is on slick terrain.

Con teams can also turn claims about the value of environmental protection in a few ways. First, they can argue that strong protection increases local resentment toward wildlife

John Hutton & Barney Dickson, World Conservation Monitoring Center, 2001, Conservation of Exploited Species, eds. Reynolds, Mace, Redford & Robinson, p. 448

In the absence of meaningful industrialization in most of southern Africa, the hunger for land has grown and rural poverty remains widespread.  Even in South Africa, which has a significant degree of industrial development, rural poverty and land hunger are pivotal development issues.  Protected areas are under pressure because they are seen by rural people as under used and serving the needs only of social elites.  They are also unpopular because they harbor dangerous wild animals that do not respect boundaries between different land types, however distinct those boundaries are on a map.  As a result, these areas are increasingly being fenced, ostensibly to keep animals in, but also to keep people and their cattle out.  Use of the land outside urban areas is being polarized: elephants and lions have right of way in protected areas, but have to give way absolutely to humans outside.  In effect, this means that much wildlife outside protected areas is being eradicated.

This ecological apartheid relies on strict policing.  Africa’s rural people who once lived off wildlife, for which they often had traditional rules of access and management, are forbidden from using wildlife for food and those who continue to do so are outlawed as “poachers” and accordingly harassed and hounded as criminals.  This type of protection, which operates against the interests of most local people, is doomed to failure in many, if not most, circumstances.  Africa’s rural poor rely on natural resources for their survival and cannot easily be separated from the wildlife.  The levels of poverty experienced by many communities make bushmeat the only affordable source of protein.  The alternative to using wildlife is commonly severe malnutrition.  Despite the law, rural people continue to use wildlife on a daily basis.  The real effect of laws has not been to stop use, but to drive it underground. Because of the difficulties of stopping illegal use there is a strong tendency for wildlife to become a de facto open-access resource.  Traditional, sustainable use has been replaced by institutionalized abuse.

Second, the Con needs to win the argument that resource extraction improves economic development opportunities for poor countries and reduces poverty. Many argue that, if properly managed, natural resource extraction can be a powerful tool in economic development.

Naazneen H. Barma, et al, The World Bank, 2012, Rents to Riches?: The Political Economy of Natural Resource-Led Development, p. ix

Natural resource endowments such as oil, gas, and minerals can serve as potent drivers of developmentGlobal demand for scarce natural resources is mounting rapidly.  Industry experts argue that we are in the midst of a “super cycle” of commodity prices, driven by demand from fast-growing emerging economies.  Natural resource extraction is capital-intensive, with annual global investments approaching $1 trillion, hence offering the potential for rapid infrastructure development and structural transformation in developing economies.  Riches from the sector promise to be massive, with resource rents, that is, the difference between revenues and extraction cost, estimated at about $4 trillion annually, or 7 percent of global GDP.  More than 50 World Bank client countries–representing more than 1.5 billion people and such diverse settings as Afghanistan, Brazil, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, and Mongolia — are currently characterized as “resource-dependent.”  Nonrenewable natural resources are disproportionately important to poor and fragile countries, as typically they are their main endowment and revenue source.

But a “paradox of plenty” exists in resource-rich poor countries, where recent history has demonstrated that extractive endowments, if not well managed, can disappointCommon problems include lopsided, poorly diversified economic structures; disruptions to local economies and communities; environmental hazards; weakened accountability of the state to society; and even the risk of violent conflict.  Political upheavals like the recent ones in the Middle East and North Africa can render resource-producing and -consuming countries vulnerable to extreme commodity price volatility and supply uncertainty.  As representatives of the World Bank Group and the broader community of development policy practitioners, we know much about the challenge of effective natural resource-led development strategies and technical options for mitigating some of the worst economic outcomes.  A consensus is emerging that policies will be effective in leveraging natural resource-led development only when they are compatible with the level of institutional quality and the political economy context of the country in question.  Consequently the key challenge is to identify national resource management strategies that promise to benefit a country’s present and future generations, including strategies for attracting the requisite investment and technology to develop the resource sector effectively in the long term.

In developing countries, it has a large impact on growth rates.

OECD, 2008, Natural Resources and Pro-Poor Growth: The Economics and Politics, DAC Guidelines and Reference Series, (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development), p. 13

Natural resources can generate and sustain growth, thereby reducing poverty and supporting the achievement of the Millennium  Development Goals (MDGs). It is therefore urgent to improve natural resource management for long-term pro-poor economic growth, i.e. a pace and pattern of growth that enhances the ability of poor women and men to participate in, contribute to and benefit from growth.

The lives of many poor people in developing countries depend on resource extraction.

OECD, 2008, Natural Resources and Pro-Poor Growth: The Economics and Politics, DAC Guidelines and Reference Series, (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development), p. 17

While the proportion of the world’s poor living in towns and cities is gradually rising, most of the world’s poor will continue to live in rural areas for many decades to come. Poor people’s livelihoods will remain heavily dependent on natural resources: soil, water, forests and fisheries underpin commercial and subsistence activities and of ten provide a safety net for the poor in times of crisis. Strategies for rural poverty reduction, including pro-poor natural resource management, should remain at centre stage for poverty reduction.

Strong overall growth rates are essential to reducing poverty.

OECD, 2008, Natural Resources and Pro-Poor Growth: The Economics and Politics, DAC Guidelines and Reference Series, (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development), p. 16

Generating pro-poor growth is key to the achievement of the MDGs. There is a consensus that, over the long term, economic growth is an essential requirement and, frequently, the main contributing factor in reducing income poverty. Evidence across countries and time shows that long-term reduction in income poverty results first and foremost from growth. At the same time, developing countries with similar rates of economic growth have experienced quite different levels of economic poverty reduction. This is due to initial conditions (particularly levels of inequality in incomes and assets) and whether growth occurs in areas and sectors where the poor live and are economically active. The pattern and pace of growth are thus interlinked and need to be addressed together in order to have a substantial and sustained impact on poverty reduction

Good pro teams will also argue that resource extraction and economic growth must be prioritized because economic growth will lead the best environmental protection over the long-term

James K. Glassman, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, August 12, 2002, http://www.aei.org/news/newsID.14186/news_detail.asp, accessed 4/20/03

There is a direct, close and logical correlation between economic prosperity and an improved environment. You can see this through simple observation: few, if any, rich countries have environments as poor as the poorest countries. The U.S., Canada, Australia, Europe and Japan have the cleanest environments; nations like Haiti, China and India have the worst. Thirteen of the 15 most polluted cities in the world are in developing Asia. Academic studies have found, not simply that wealth makes environmental health, but more specifically that pollution rises in poorer countries until their inhabitants achieve an average per-capita income of about $5,000. Then, pollution begins falling rapidly. If we plotted pollution vs. income on a graph, the resulting line would be called a Kuznets Curve, a bell-shaped curve. It makes sense for public policy to be directed toward getting nations over the $5,000 hump and onto the downslope of the this curve. An important new paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives called “Confronting the Environmental Kuznets Curve,” by Susmita Dasgupta of the World Bank and three other researchers, demonstrates the link among economic growth, rising living standards and environmental health. And the distinguished climate scientist, Jack M. Hollander of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, will elaborate on the theme in a book to be published in January, The Real Environmental Crisis: Why Poverty, Not Affluence, Is the Environment’s Number One Enemy (University of California Press). With prosperity comes a desire to improve one’s air and water–and, in addition, a greater moral awareness of the dangers and evils of pollution. Think of clean air and water as goods that a society can purchase–but only after it has satisfied its basic needs for food, shelter and rudimentary income. It is unfair for developed countries to deny developing countries the tools with which to improve the lives of their citizens. Those tools sometimes pollute–temporarily. But pollution per unit of production drops sharply once citizens receive a comfortable income. Advances in recent years–thanks to technology, greater wealth and education–have produced spectacular reductions in air and water pollution in richer, and even in poorer, nations. For example, lead emissions have dropped 95 percent in the U.S. in the past two decades. New Delhi and Beijing today are less polluted than London in the 1930s and 1940s. SO2 and smoke levels in London today are below those in the 16th century. None of this should be surprising because of the link I noted at the outset: Poverty has been relieved more in the past 50 years than in the preceding 500.

In the context of Bush meat, limiting access to it through environmental protection directly threatens poor individuals who rely on it for food.

Douglas Williamson, Forestry Officer, FAO, 2002, Links between Biodiversity, Conservation, Livelihoods and Food Security: the sustainable use of wild species for meat, eds Mainka and Trivedi, p. 19

In the sense of being a dietary component, wild meat is directly related to food security, but the relationship is not a simple one.  The importance of the contribution that wild meat makes to food security is greatest where it is the only or the main source of animal protein and is difficult to replace.  Importance to food security declines when wild meat is simply one of a number of interchangeable choices that are readily available to consumer. Wild meat also contributes indirectly to the food security of those who derive some or all of their income from the harvesting, distribution, sale and/or marketing of wild meat.  The magnitude of its contribution to the food security of such people depends on what proportion of their income it provides and how readily it is replaceable as a source of income.

Another way in which wild meat (in the form of animal parts) can contribute indirectly to food security, is through its role in the practice of traditional medicine, which provides livelihoods for many people.
Since wild meat manifestly contributes to food security and is derived from wild animals, which are a component of biodiversity, this is one way in which there is an unequivocal link between biodiversity and food security, but they are not relevant to this paper.

Because wild meat manifestly contributes both directly and indirectly to the food security of many people, a decline in the availability of wild meat to the people who depend on it will have a negative effect on food security.  This must be a cause of concern for FAO.

Another reason to prioritize resource extraction and economic development is that economic development reduces war risks, particularly when that economic development stems from the promotion of trade ties

Havard Hegre, International Peace Research Institute, Oslo, 2000, “Development and the Liberal Peace”, Journal of Peace Research, 37:1, pp 5-30,


Rosecrance (1986) argues that the incentives for states to choose between the trading world and the military-political one change with economic development.1 The two worlds have always coexisted, but historical development has made the trading world increasingly more attractive to states. Rosecrance points out that development alters four variables that are crucial to the calculations of the leader of a state: it increases the potential gains from trade, the economic costs of war, and the political costs of war, as well as decreasing the utility of occupying territories relative to the pursuit of trade policies.

First, development directly affects the possibility for and the gains from trade:

Industrial and population growth strengthen interdependence and make it harder to achieve national objectives autonomously.

When technology was rudimentary and population sparse, states had little contact with one another and did not generally get in each other’s way. With the commercial and industrial revolutions, however, they were brought into closer proximity. As the Industrial Revolution demanded energy resources – great quantities of food, coal, iron, water power, and petroleum – the number of states that could be fully independent declined (Rosecrance, 1986: 25).

Likewise, development furnishes states with access to better transport and communications technology and infrastructure – within and between states – which in turn increases both the volume and the utility of trade by reducing the transaction costs.2

The choice between the trading world and the military-political world is also related to how easy or difficult it is to conquer territory, and to govern such territory once it has been taken. Rosecrance (1986: 32–38, 155–162) holds that the costs of war have increased enormously with the industrialization of warfare. The price of producing one tank or one fighter has become far higher, yet such items do not last correspondingly longer in the battlefield (in confrontation with an opponent with the same technological level). In addition, the accelerating pace of technological change renders weapons and units obsolete more and more quickly. Moreover, modern weapons are more destructive, and sophisticated factories and elaborate infrastructure take more time to reconstruct if damaged. In addition, Rosecrance argues, the political costs of warfare are higher in industrialized societies.

It also reduces the risk of terrorism.

Drew Schaub, Department of Political Science, Penn State, 2004, JOURNAL OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION, Vol. 48 No. 2, April 2004 230-258,


Despite the caveats, our analysis suggests important policy implications for the war against terrorism. National governments should realize that economic globalization is not the cause of, but a possible partial solution to, transnational terrorism. Although opening up one’s border facilitates the movement of terrorists and their activities, our results show that the effect of such facilitation appears weak. It does not precipitate a significant rise in transnational terrorist attacks within countries. This is an important lesson for policy makers who are designing antiterrorism policies. More important, economic openness, to the extent that it promotes economic development, may actually help to reduce indirectly the number of transnational terrorist incidents inside a country. Closing borders to foreign goods and capital may produce undesirable effects. Economic closure and autarky can generate more incentives to engage in transnational terrorist activities by hindering economic development. Antiterrorism policy measures should be designed with caution. They should not be designed to slow down economic globalization. Promoting economic development and reducing poverty should be important components of the global war against terrorism. Such effects are structural and system-wide. It is in the best interest of the United States not only to develop by itself but also to help other countries to grow quickly. The effect of economic development on the number of transnational terrorist incidents is large. The role of economic development deserves much more attention from policy makers than it currently enjoys.

And reduces the risks of disease outbreaks and epidemics.

Bjorn Lomborg, Professor of Statistics, University of Aarhus, 2001, The Skeptical Environmentalist, pp. 55-56

In the ever present struggle between health and death, we can identify some of the pivotal events reducing death rates. First, rising standards of living from the late eighteenth century afforded better food, clothing and housing and consequently higher disease resistance. At the same time these changes in living conditions, for example people living closer together, forced an evolutionary change in the pathogens, often towards a lower virulence. Second, improved public hygiene, better water supplies and sewers, hygiene education and quarantine measures from the late nineteenth century helped suppress infections. Finally, better medical therapy in the twentieth century provided a vast array of new technologies to combat illness. Over the last couple of hundred years, we have consequently experienced a substantial decline in death rates and an increase in life expectancy.

To a large degree this is because we have managed to control and defeat the incidence of infectious diseases. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, smallpox, which had been Europe’s leading killer causing more than 10 percent of all deaths, proved avoidable through vaccination or inoculation, and in 1891 diphtheria could be cured using antitoxin. The plague pandemic that had ravaged the world, costing a 100 million lives in the late sixth century and 25 million in the Black Death of the late fourteenth, was brought under control by public proscriptions such as quarantine, rat control, better sewers and higher housing standards. Measles and chickenpox were rendered harmless because the increase in population density effectively domesticated the pathogens and reduced them to typical infant diseases. Cholera was brought under control by improving the quality of the water supplies. In the first half of the twentieth century sulfa drugs and antibiotics finally made strong inroads against infections such as pneumonia, syphilis, gonorrhea, meningococcal infections, and later typhoid and enteric fevers.

This victory over infectious diseases is clearly demonstrated in Figure 20. The important killers, pneumonia and tuberculosis, have decreased dramatically over the past century in the US, and total mortality from infections per 100,000 has dropped from 800 to 50, compared to the stable non-infection rate of about 800. Figures from the UK and other industrialized nations show similar declines in infectious diseases. The increase since the mid-1980s is due to two factors. First, about two-thirds of the 1980 infection rate is caused by pneumonia. However, pneumonia is deadly almost exclusively in very old age, and an almost doubling in pneumonia since 1980 is caused by an aging population. If we correct for aging, the death risk was similar in 1980 and 1997.

Second, the increase since 1980 is caused by the rise of HIV, where the all-time high of 16.4 in 1995 was comparable to the death rates of syphilis in the beginning of the century. Thanks to the new combination drugs, AIDS-related deaths have now declined to just 4.9 per 100,000 in 1998, and the figure for 1999 is even lower.

Con teams will need to answer the “resources curse” and”dutch disease” arguments in order to win their economic argument. The first answer they should make to this argument is that outside assistance can help developing countries overcome the resource curse.

Naazneen H. Barma, et al, The World Bank, 2012, Rents to Riches?: The Political Economy of Natural Resource-Led Development, p. 228-9

Natural resources hold tremendous promise for low-income countries attempting to spark sustainable growth and development.  As noted at the beginning of this volume, all countries that currently or in the future stand to extract significant natural resource rents can be characterized as being on one of several developmental trajectories: the fortunate few headed toward prosperity, an unlucky group enmeshed in welfare-reducing resource curse dynamics, and perhaps the bulk experiencing some form of low-level equilibrium trap (see figure 1.6 in chapter 1).  As the frontiers of resource discovery and extraction spread farther across the globe, more developing countries will face the political economy dynamics outlined in this book.  They will require, more than ever, clear-eyed, constructive, and feasible assistance from their development partners, including traditional donors and NGOs, emerging development players, and specific public and private interests in the natural resource sector.

The international development community has a compelling and critical role to play in helping client countries to better translate natural resource wealth into salutary development outcomes.  In addition to the country-level political economic dynamics upon which we have focused here, the broader global context surrounding the extraction and use of natural resources matters a great deal.  International demand for natural resources will continue to grow significantly over the coming generation as the world’s population approaches 9 billion and developing economies grow more prosperous.  New global players active in the extractive industries, in terms of both production and consumption, necessarily interact with the political dynamics unfolding within countries.  By the same token, evolving global concerns abut climate change, energy security, and environmental stability affect the discourse around natural resources, bringing mounting pressures to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. But the World Energy Council (2007) estimates that energy demand will double by 2050, with fossil fuels continuing to play the dominant role, and the World Economic Forum sees demand for minerals skyrocketing over the coming decade.  An increasingly diverse set of natural resource consumers, particularly the middle-income BRICs (Brazil-the Russian Federation-India-China) and other emerging economies., have already begun emphasizing access to raw materialsThese trends combine into an expanding push for resource discovery and extraction in low-income countries across the world.  In turn, nascent producers become exposed to the economic vulnerability induced by global commodity prices, and the political economy dynamics that often accompany the drive for resource-led development.  And the rents and investment flows associated with this sector, in many cases, continue to simply dwarf international aid and the weight of development prescriptions.

Consequently, traditional and emerging development partners (Rowlands 2008) must find common cause in seeking to leverage developing country resources for shared prosperity.  Engaging in smarter, more collaborative ways with the growing number of developing country producers will be a key ad effectiveness challenge in the coming decade–and more systematic attention to political economy realities will be a key ingredient in enhancing the prospects of success.

Second, countries such as Malaysia deny the resource curse claim

Zainal Aznam Yusof, Malaysia National Economic Advisory Council, 2011, Plundered Nations?: Successes and Failures in Natural Resource Extraction, eds. P. Collier & A. Venables, p. 194

The growth experience of Malaysia shows a relatively successful adoption of an export-led growth strategy with manufactured exports not being crowded out by economic windfalls from natural resourcesHow did Malaysia avoid “Dutch disease”?  How was  it possible that revenues from oil were not detrimental to the growth of manufactured exports?  The Dutch disease phenomenon has to do with the failure to sustain growth following the experience of economic windfalls, with sizeable capital inflows resulting from the booms in resource revenues, particularly revenue from oil, and with the adverse effects on manufactured exports as the exchange rate appreciates.  The essence of Dutch disease is the adverse impact of natural resource discoveries on the competitiveness of existing economic activities, specifically manufacturingIn the Dutch disease model, there are three sectors: a tradable natural resource sector, a tradable non-resource manufacturing sector and a non-traded sector (Sachs and Warner, 1995).

Distortions in the economy were kept to a minimum.  Malaysia’s economy is very open, with trade accounting for more than 200 percent of GDP.  This openness has been held on to for a very long time; the trade account is open and there is convertibility in the current account.  The capital account is very open with the exception of 1998-2005; capital controls were imposed following the Asian financial crisis, and the exchange rate (the ringgit) was pegged at RM3.80 to the US$.  It was unpegged in July 2005 and is now under a managed float on the basis of a basket of currencies.  Protection in the economy during the import substitution phase and after was kept low and was not as extensive as in other developing economies; the overall level of effective tariff protection was low. With  no severe macroeconomic imbalances for prolonged periods, and conservative fiscal prudence and monetary policy, inflation was kept to a remarkably low level and has averaged policy, inflation was kept to a remarkably low level and has averaged less than 2 percent per annum over the last 50 years.  These factors helped, with a few exceptional years, to sustain a stable growth path and to avoid the Dutch disease.


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