This seems to be a question of how much we as a global community are willing to plan for our future on this planet. For example, continued clearing of rainforest land or the violation of wildlife reserves to drill for oil may, for the short term, produce beneficial economic results. Today, as much of the developed world finds itself in an economic downturn, taking the quick and easy approach can be very tempting for governments and corporations that are trying to keep their heads above water.
In the long term, however, the lasting effects that these choices will have on the environment will likely be exponentially more costly than the economic difficulties currently being experienced. Yes, economiv growth is important in order for people to support themselves, but the potential damage that could be done by simply disregarding the environmental impact of economic development is far more frightening than any recession. It is going to be much more difficult to contend with the polar ice caps melting than it would be to work on reducing greenhouse emissions.
Two of the great questions of our time. There is no distinctive answer and there cannot be one; different people, and different groups of people will have very different attitudes about these issues. Ultimately, politics will probably control more than anything else, although popular demand may have big impacts (in both directions).
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