In fact, even individuals can make an environmental difference in saving the environment through the market. One man named Hank Fischer with a passion for saving grey wolves provides an excellent example. Wolves were nearly extinct in the American and put on the endangered species list in 1974. Fischer talked to local cattle ranchers and learned that they were killing wolves for purely economic reasons — the animals were killing their livestock. By securing private donations from Defenders of WIldlife members in Montana, Fischer was able to establish funds to reimburse ranchers for lost livestock. He secured more private funding by having an artist named Monte Dolack paint posters of how Yellowstone would look like with wolves back in it. Dolack alone raised over fifty thousand dollars. Through this process, ranchers allowed the wolves on their private property and helped not only bring wolves back to the American west, but got wolves off the endangered species list in 2013. Bringing back wolves help the local ecology and the environment thanks largely to one man’s valiant efforts and use of free-markets tools.
Another misconception about capitalism that environmentalists have is supposedly diminishing resources. To the country, it’s through capitalism and innovation that resources are saved, sustained and better substitutions found. The price system stops shortages from occurring by increasing the cost of an item as demand increases and supply becomes lower. When prices get too high, entrepreneurs seek out alternatives and substitutions or more efficient methods of consumption. Through the profit motive and innovation, society benefits and the environment does as well.
A perfect example of this is the copper industry in the 1960’s. At the time, telephone use was expanding rapidly and the newly fashionable devices used copper wiring. As a result, the price of copper started to skyrocket. Consequently, a cheaper, cleaner and more efficient substitute called fiber optic cable was developed to address this issue. This innovation not only helped to save the environment and lowering the demand for copper, but it also allowed customers to consume more. It became more affordable to keep expanding telephone and data lines, allowing for a higher standard of living while at the same time helping the environment. Again, capitalism created a win-win situation to save the environment.
On the other hand, government regulations stifle business growth, hold back commerce, and cause the misallocation of funds by creating a lobbyist market to combat and influence these regulations. These funds could have gone toward research and development to create new innovations. If the government only got out of the way and allowed the free market to work at full effect, the environment would be better. Technology, innovation from profit seekers and philanthropy from caring individuals and organizations prove how the free market not only can handle environmental concerns, it does handle them — often better and more efficiently than the government does.