Poverty and Pollution

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In the article “Poverty and Pollution” the author considers several ethical dilemmas. The writer gives us an overview of the ecological situation in Brazil’s “valley of death” – one of the most polluted places on Earth. The air in the valley is full of harmful gases and many residents suffer from the variety of health problems as the result. Some people believe that negative environmental impacts are the price of the progress. But on the human side, who pays the social price for the pollution? Some scientists, such as university professor Dr. Oswaldo Campos, argue that poor part of the population in third world countries pays the price. If so should developing countries try to find a way to economic prosperity with strict environmental standards? On the other hand, what kind of moral obligations does business have when it comes to the environment? Let us consider these ethical dilemmas in greater details. Do poor countries really pay the price for the progress? We can consider historical progress made by the countries in the West. None of them magically advanced to the relative prosperity without sacrifices. Many of the same “dirty” industries originated in the industrialized countries. Many of them have been there for the most part of the twenties century. Since western population had to deal with them for some time, these industries have evolved and many of them have now being perfected to the best of human ability. Many factories reduced their air emissions, reduced and recycled their waste and many of them are automated by employing robots. In the current economical environment, the burden of the manufacturing belongs to the less developed countries. It is in the nature of the business to seek lowest production costs. I believe that there is direct correlation between economic progress of the particular country and an increase in the environmental awareness of the population. First people need to satisfy their basic human needs before they can pay attention to the environmental problems. Let us for a moment consider the possibility of all manufacturing remaining in the industrialized nations. There are at least two results that would follow. First, since environmental standards generally much more strict than in the developing nations, we would see the increase in the pollution control. Subsequently, environment on Earth in general would benefit, since less pollution would be omitted in the air, released in the water or stored in the landfills. Humans would enjoy cleaner air and better ecological variety. Second result would be increased costs. It would take an increasing amount of resources to comply with the regulations. That would lead to increased prices for goods. The population in the industrialized nations still would be able to afford those goods, but maybe to lesser degree. What would happen to the population of the underdeveloped nations? They would be unable to purchase them at all, since not only the prices would increase, but the better jobs would be absent also. Such scenario would only widen the gap between industrialized and less developed countries. Thirdly, increased costs would decrease the amount of money spend on innovation. The progress would slow down. All of us would lose. From the Utilitarian point of view such scenario would result deprivation of pleasure and in greater amount of pain on the world. Thus based on cost-benefit analysis it would be unethical to operate in such a way. Another important consideration to make is the fact that in most cases foreign businesses are allowed to operate by local governments. Businesses do not create rules and regulations, they just obey them. In my opinion, it is in the business’s best interest to operate in the most environmentally friendly way. The world has become very transparent place. It is virtually impossible to hide questionable practices in regards to the environment. At the same time we cannot expect a...
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