Pollution Controls as Infrastructure Investment

Indonesia and the surrounding region produces 80 percent of the world’s palm oil. In the short term, slashing and burning brush is a low-cost way for farmers to clear land for palm-oil production. But a murky haze chokes the region, contributing to illnesses and deaths, not to mention lost production with business and school cancellations. The solution is to make slash-and-burn clearing less profitable for farmers, but that requires others to finance new methods and enforcement. “Market forces won’t work” and “Slash-and-burn is less costly than environmentally friendly methods relying on manpower, heavy machinery or new technologies,” explain professors Euston Quah and Joergen Oerstroem Moeller. The world must find new tools to battle pollution and promote practices to stem climate change. The writers urge governments and international groups to borrow from game theory: classify haze as an element in development, regard pollution controls as infrastructure investment and pay a nominal fee to prevent larger costs associated with pollution that lingers for months. – YaleGlobal