The most common class of negative externalities fall into the category of pollution. Many people find the idea of "optimal pollution" offensive. If you ask most people how much pollution is the "right" amount you typically get two types of answers. At one extreme there are those who argue that "zero pollution is the only right amount." At the other extreme are those who believe that "there is no pollution problem."

    Such answers aren't very helpful. First, zero pollution makes no sense, as nice as the idea seems. Human beings, even in purely non-technological societies, pollute in a variety of ways, therefore zero pollution would probably means no humans. Anyone who believes "pollution isn't a problem." has never been to Houston, L.A. or Mexico City (add your favorite highly polluted city here).

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