Yes, that situation can suck, too, like if the company's research facilities are someplace like upstate New York. It might be OK if you like subfreezing temperatures and a lot of snow and ice, but judging by how the Northeast has been losing population for the last several decades while the southeast and southwest have been gaining, I think it's safe to assume that most people prefer a warmer climate. For some reason, some companies don't seem to understand that and wonder why they can't get people to work at their upstate NY, Minnesota, or Fargo, North Dakota locations.
One is to charge the company, who will turn around and charge the consumers with higher prices.
That assumes that they are not already charging what the market will bear, or that their margin is approximately zero.
In general, the price a company sells their product at is not a direct function of the cost to produce it. Instead, it's a function of the demand curve at different price points. They price the item to maximize their expected revenue. The difference between that and their costs is their profit margin. As long as their margin remains positive, then they won't increase the price due to an increase in costs because that increase would actually reduce their revenue. Only in situations where the product is commoditized and the margin is very small will changes in cost directly translate to changes in price.
And in commodity markets, the drop-off for raising prices relative to competitors is even higher. The cost of, e.g., copper is fixed by the supply, not by what any particular provider wants to charge for it. If they can't make money selling copper at that price, tough for them because raising the price won't help. What this means for environmental costs is that if there is an environment-damaging technique that provides a marginal increase in supply (e.g. using arsenic pools to siphon extra gold from ore mentioned in another post), but they have to pay for the cleanup, then the cost of acquiring that supply will be higher than what they can sell it for (especially since introducing extra supply tends to drive the price down), and it becomes unprofitable to use the environmentally dangerous technique.
Think of another commodity, oil, only this time without the "environment" factor. Why aren't oil companies drilling for the oil that's in the Gulf shale? Because it's uneconomical to do so. Why can't they just raise the price of oil? Because it's a global market, and nobody cares how expensive their oil was to acquire. Only when the global supply shrinks and the price of oil rises will it become economical to get that oil.
Sure there may be some cases where a company is able to simply raise prices and continue damaging the environment, but in many cases that's simply not an option, and ergo the cost will not be born by the customer. By making an externality an internality, we've changed the economics of damaging the environment so that the more you damage the environment, the less economical it becomes. So either they stop doing it, or they make less money.
The second option is to make the taxpayers pay for it. In my mind taxpayers = consumers and so there is no real difference.
I can think of three significant differences.
1: Taxes are an even more indirect way of relaying costs to citizens. It's highly unlikely that the tax burden of an individual would increase in proportion to the cost of environmental cleanup. Much more likely is that their tax burden stays the same, and NASA (or whatever) gets less funding.
2: By hiding the cost, you're removed the incentive for companies to not pollute, and individuals to not buy from polluting companies, and that's even if (1) didn't hold true. "Oh don't buy from company X because my taxes will go up by Y" is not something most people will think about.
3: Corporations and the rich pay a lower percentage of their incomes in taxes than the middle class, because much more of their income comes from capital gains. Also individuals are taxed on income, while corporations are taxed on income minus costs. Also this burden would be placed on people who did not purchase products from the offending company. Allowing society at large to pay the cost for a corporation's environmental negligence is the whole problem in the first place.
By the way, liberatarian != hates the environment. Liberatarian == hates the government.
Well that's good. The question is, how exactly are you going to internalize this significant cost without the government? Of the two options, I would think the first is the lesser of two evils from a libertarian point of view. It's roughly equivalent to preventing fraud, or basically preventing a company from dumping their trash on a neighbor's property, something libertarians often see a use for government in doing. The latter is having a big government cleanup organization running off taxpayer money.
Either way (or a third way) we have to do something to internalize these costs. Because we are internalizing them as a society regardless.
On the other hand, there is likely more we could do in the short term if we knew for certain that an Earth-like planet existed. We could shoot probes at it, point Hubbles at it, focus our efforts on detecting communication signals at it, and so on.
While the latter two make sense, the first one is dubious at this point. We've only created two spacecraft that have even left the Solar System (V'ger 1 & 2), and they're nowhere near reaching another star system, and they've been traveling for 30+ years now. We still don't really know the issues involved in getting out of the solar system, and we don't really have a way of communicating that far (the radiothermal generators used for deep-space craft don't generate enough power after several decades to communicate over such a distance). If we can't even talk to our probes that have gone just beyond Pluto, how are we going to talk to a probe on a journey of 10 or more lightyears? I suppose we could use some really big RTGs for the journey and then use solar power once the probe gets to the next system, but this project would cost a fortune, would definitely require a bunch of parallel probes in case something goes wrong over such a long journey, and would take centuries just to get there and tell us what it sees. Long before that time, we'll probably have developed much more powerful nuclear propulsion systems which could power probes (or even manned missions) at much higher speeds, passing up these earlier probes and rendering the efforts in making them useless.
Agreed. But money exchanges aren't the answer. Companies simply factor that as a cost of business, even if it's a risk of cost, not a cost ultimately paid.
The fix for this sort of thing is jail time.
So let me get this straight: you feel that because it was caused by arson, all of the CO2 is human generated?
Let me get this right, because I ask of the fire was started by humans that means I believe all fires are started by humans?
No, I do not believe all fires are started by humans. I do know though that recent fires were made as bad as they were due to the Forest Service's Smokey Bear campaign to stop all fires. Fires are a natural part of the ecology and they help prevent the buildup up of fuel. Because there was an active campaign to put out all forest fires fuel was allowed to build up, which when it did catch on fire created infernos.
What I find most telling about these stories, is that in just about 2 years since Apple has entered the smartphone market, they have become the product to beat, the benchmark against which all others are measured. How did it happen that sophisticated, tech savvy and powerful companies like Microsoft, Nokia, Sony and RIM have such a hard time coming up with an answer, and only Google seems to be going somewhere?
I don't have all the answers, but one thing that seems clear is that Apple totally focusses on the user experience. I once made the error in 2000 to buy a PocketPC instead of a Palm based on the hardware specs. I learned then that a 16Mhz machine can be a better choice then a 200 Mhz one, if the first has been properly designed.
I've been using Nokia phones in the past, as they seem to understand the same lesson, I'm a little puzzled why they and the other established forces in the market have such a hard time formulating an answer to the iPhone. But then the seem thing seems to be happening in the MP3 player market.
What does Apple do that makes them so dominant in these markets so quickly, that the other players seem to fail to do? Even I've been converted recently, having bought a Macbook a year ago, and an iPhone last week, after having had a good experience with my iPod for years. Somehow other products in the same price range just don't measure up. (I did quite an extensive comparison with my alternative OS being Linux).
How does Apple become the measuring stick and the product to beat so quicky, even Microsoft usually needs half a decade and Billions and often they don't really succeed if it's outside the direct Windows sphere of control. (WinCE/Mobile/Phone, Xbox?)
I think you're in the wrong community. Find some DirectX boards/chatrooms, those are the guys making video games. OpenGL engineers are either writing boring CAD programs, or going after PhDs.
Also, your life in general would be easier if you picked a language that did garbage collection. There are many of those fast-enough for video games now. (Of course, shaders are still a royal PITA-- nothing you can do about that, sadly.)
There must be more to life than having everything. -- Maurice Sendak