Environmental Trade-offs: Is It Really Worth It?

A trade-off, by definition, is the balance achieved between two desirable but incompatible features. There are an infinite number of things we could be doing at any given time on any day and each of the decisions we make involves some kind of trade-off. Environmental trade-offs are an increasingly problematic situation for the simple reason that we need to use the resources but it is also essential that we take care of the earth and keep it as beautiful and healthy as we possibly can. As the nation prepares to make sizable investments in renewable energy, environmentalists are faced with a contradictory decision of developing green energy and the impact this new arrangement would have on secured land and endangered species. The economy and the environment are intricately linked. Whether we are looking at daily life or natural resources, because resources are scarce, choices have to be made about how to use them. Opportunity costs are directly related to trade-offs in the case that an opportunity cost is what is sacrificed in order to get something else. The popular saying “time is money” illustrates this point because if we use all our time to participate in leisure activities we are left with less money due to the fact that we are not earning money from using the time to work. Utility can also be related to trade-offs because how useful an object or activity is influences what we choose to do when faced with a decision between two different choices. For example your family might want to cut down trees in your backyard in order to expand your house so that yall can have a family room. The positive side of this would be the utility of the family room and the memories your family would make there but the negative effect would be that you are cutting down trees for a reason that is not necessary or vital to your family’s quality of life. For many years big factories released toxic chemicals into the air every day and thought nothing of it but over time the chemicals have begun deteriorating the ozone layer and contributing to the increasing problem of global warming. “Go Green” has become the recent incentive produced by the government to encourage citizens to monitor their water usage, recycle, plant trees, etc. Naked Economics has taught me that trade-offs are necessary in life and especially in economics. Without trade-offs the economy wouldn’t be where it is today. When trees are cut for such uses as housing, like I mentioned previously, some of the direct costs will include the cost of machinery and labor during cutting, etc. The opportunity costs relating to this would be the opportunities foregone by the machinery and labor that could not be used elsewhere, since it was occupied cutting trees. The external costs are the loss of environmental benefits.


Hardisty, David. “Tradeoffs among Economic, Social, and Environmental Goals, with Varying Delay.” N.p., 2010. Web. 15 June 2016.

“Trade-Offs – The Environmental Literacy Council.” The Environmental Literacy Council. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 June 2016.



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