Defense of the Corporations
An Overview by Stephanie Ann Holbrook
Although there are obvious advantages of saving the environment, there are a few arguments in defense of the corporations and other organizations that do not always put the needs of the environment on the top of their list. Some claim that pollution is just part of the business cycle, others say that it is the government's fault, or that pollution is part of evolution and only the strong should survive and adapt to the conditions. Another argument that many individuals have is that they should not have to give up comforts for future generations, on the other hand many parents argue that they should not make their children suffer and live a less convenient lifestyle than they did growing up; they claim that conservation is "unfair by generation." Parents say this because they enjoyed many comforts in life that their children will not enjoy because they are forced to conserve for the future.
Many businesses claim that pollution is part of the business cycle like flies are part of the food chain. There are companies that cause water, and air pollution and destroy resources, and then there are the companies that clean up the mess, and try to prevent pollution.1 Also, through bioengineering, nanotechnoogy, robotics, and computerization society might be able to create molecules that feed on pollution and produce ozone, engineer foods with genes that delay decay or banish cholesterol, or alter plants to fix their own fertilizer. 10 If industries are supported, they may actually find a way to save the planet in the long run. Both of these types of companies, the polluters and the protectors, provide jobs for people. What is good for industry is good for the country; where profits are made and employees are paid.5
There is also another way to look at pollution through the eyes of the businessman. When the general population is turning its taste towards more ecologically safe products, a corporation can use this as a sales gimmick.4 They can advertise their anti-pollution movement to increase sales and draw the public to their business.
Some corporations blame the government for the environmental problems. They have commented that when the government does take action against pollution it contracts with anti-pollution construction projects, instead of aiming them at hindering the operations of the polluters. 2 Corporations respond most readily to a loss of their profits, after all what would be the incentive to keep operating if no profits were being made? Another political mistake is the fact that pollution control is generally paid for by the public. 3 Once again, profits are the heart and soul of operation; corporations aren't going to respond if the public is paying for the pollution.
There is another argument. It might seem harsh, but our society may be closer to it than we think. Since the population is growing so rapidly and un-relentlessly, we may be fighting a losing battle. 6 Pollution is unavoidable. No matter how much we recycle, conserve and reuse, it will still be prevalent. If this is the case, pollution could be part of natures plan of evolution. Only the strong will survive and the weak will not reproduce and die young, leaving a well adjusted race of man to continue to rule the earth.
Along the lines of the above, instead of letting the population continue to grow society should be reorganized in the fashion of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World7. People would be bred only via test tubes in order to control population. All the babies would be genetically engineered to perform a specific task and humans would become more like like specialized robots. The question that is posed however, "will the people be happy?" is an ongoing philosophical argument. This also applies to the Darwin theory of evolution above. What is happiness? Will the new race be happy? Are people happy now?
Theoretically, the ideal society would be one in which all its members are happy. 9 Would people be happy living a very convenient lifestyle, although the planet is filled with smog, garbage and disease? Would people be happier living in a clean, beautiful environment that they could be proud of and share with their grandchildren some day, while having to work hard every day and give up some of the daily conveniences that we enjoy today? Or is it possible that the human race will never agree on true happiness?
People today seem to be hung up on conveniences. They have grown up an a world filled with the constant unfolding of new technology and ever growing concern for comfort. Now that the environment is at stake, people are having a hard time letting go of these comforts. Parents today are being told to turn down their heat in the winter and open a window rather than turning on the air conditioning in the summer. 8 Many are angry about this, proclaiming that they had the benefit of a sufficiently warm house as a child, their children should not suffer from any discomfort that they did not have. Yet there are many others who say "Why should have to suffer from the pains of conservation for future generations to live more comfortably?" In the future people will be brought up in a world of conservation and not know what it is like to give up the earlier conveniences. Another plausible scenario is that future generations will have better technology and will live comfortably without having to worry about polluting the planet. This once again brings up the question, should we care about future generations and is their "happiness" worth more than ours?
1. Neuhaus, Richard. In Defense of People The Macmillan Company: New York. 1971. pg 84.
2. Neuhaus, Richard. In Defense of People The Macmillan Company: New York 1971. pg. 85.
3. Neuhaus, Richard. In Defense of People The Macmillan Company: New York 1971. pg 85.
4. Neuhaus, Richard. In Defense of People The Macmillan Company: New York 1971. pg 86.
5. Neuhaus, Richard. In Defense of People The Macmillan Company: New York 1971. pg 88.
6. Neuhaus, Richard. In Defense of People The Macmillan Company: New York 1971. pg303.
7. Goodpaster, K.E. Sayre, K.M. Ethics and Problems of the 21st Century University of Notre Dame Press: Indiana 1979. pg 84.
8. Goodpaster, K.E. Sayre, K.M. Ethics and Problems of the 21st Century University of Notre Dame Press: Indiana 1979. pg 93.
9. Goodpaster, K.E. Sayre, K.M. Ethics and Problems of the 21st Century University of Notre Dame Press: Indiana 1979. pg 115.
10. Maguire, Daniel C. Rasmussen, Larry L. Ethics for a Small Planet State University of New York Press: Albany 1998. pg 99.