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 twine 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 infinite, 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 business to take on additional burden to employ the most technologically advanced protection systems for the environment. Such steps usually are very expensive and can create competitive disadvantage for the company. In recent years the rate of globalization increased exponentially.
This process is not going to slow down and it is here to stay. On one hand, people in the most remote and isolate places will be included in this process sooner or later. Every nation will have to deal with the pollution. To preserve the environment a country would need the resources both financial and technological. These resources do not appear by themselves nor do they get hand out by other nations.
Any country would have to accumulate wealth and knowledge to deal with such issues. The only proven way to do that is to go through the phase of building infrastructure: road, industrial plants, etc. This recess itself cannot be done without polluting the environment to some extent. On the other hand, business would always try to exploit every opportunity to make the profit. This is in the nature of the capitalist system.
Thus I would disagree that only poor part of the population is paying the price for the pollution since the environment gets ruined for everybody. Polluted environment does not benefit anybody as it increases healthcare costs. Businesses have to deal with increase healthcare costs and reduced productivity. Let us consider some reasons why people choose to work in such places as “dearth valley’. Nowadays we hear a lot of demands to protect foreign workers from poor working conditions.
Some activists go even further as to boycott the products by companies operating sweatshops and factories. I would disagree with such demands. First of all, one of the most obvious facts is that people choose to work in sweatshops because they get better pay and working conditions than at their next best alternative which is agriculture. Secondly, all such boycotts force companies to cut down their costs and many workers become unfortunate victims. Imposed sanctions often pressure international companies to fire workers, close stories and relocate.
The worst part is that we never care to know what happens to fired employees, but I suspect that due to scarcity of jobs many Of them end up on the streets and starve. Such jobs might be local people best alternatives. If we take away such option we reduce their choice. That in return lessens their freedom, since workers have fever options to choose from. From the Kantian point of view protesting the company goods and thus resulting displacement of workers would be unethical.
I believe that we should continue to buy goods that are produced in foreign factories and sweatshops. Such economic support will help to raise standards of living in third world countries. Environmental awareness also does not appear overnight. Any country must develop their infrastructure to embrace sustainable approach to the environment. I think that moderate pollution is a normal step in economic development of any nation.
While the pollution of the developing countries seems to be inevitable, I strongly disagree with Lawrence Summers, chief economist of the World Bank and subsequently U. S. Treasury secretary and president of Harvard University, who argues that:”the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in he lowest-wage country is impeccable”. Such assertion is too simple to a very complicated problem. I believe that businesses do have moral obligations to future generations when considering the impact of their operations.
Simply “dumping’ toxic Waste in places with cheapest labor is simply irresponsible. First of all, toxic waste is time bomb that could negatively impact future generations for centuries. Second, such behavior can bring chaos in our extremely interconnected world. Let us consider China for example. This country may very well have the lowest wage labor.
If other countries decide to export their toxic wastes to this overpopulated nation the results could be disastrous. Demographic consequences could lead to prod active part of population becoming increasingly ill. That in return would lead to diminishing role of China in the world economy. Financial and humanitarian implications of such scenario would leave the human population in disarray. Think that humanity made significant technological improvements to simply “dump” toxic waste.
Both private and government entities should be more responsible when disposing of poisonous waste. I think that while some types f pollution such as air pollution cannot be avoided entirely, others, such as nuclear waste, should be contained and stored using the latest advances in science without consideration for the lowest costs. Businesses are responsible for producing and delivering various goods and services that human population requires. In order to do that private and government enterprises must interact with the nature. Such interactions may have both positive and negative effects.
Nevertheless negative outcomes occur more often. Thus businesses should limit their interactions with ecosystems as much as possible. The attitude of indifference is no longer acceptable. Using the environment as the means to get the products manufactured is unethical. The environment should receive some consideration when making business decisions.
One Of the reasons that business moves overseas is weak government or lack of proper oversight. Such reasoning is dangerous since it can lead to dilution of moral standards. While some pollution is unavoidable, nevertheless businesses are responsible to monitor their own activities. Simply leaving the waste for somebody else to clean up, passing on the social costs to the government is a poor judgment. The example in the article gives an idea what unsustainable economic growth could look like.
In this situation businesses can benefit in the short run, but the environmental problems eventually would catch up with them. Some might argue the businesses are responsible for cleaning the results of the operations, while other point out to the consumers are the ones who should bear the costs of environmental impact since they are the ones who ultimately forces the business to produce goods and services they demand. I think that this dilemma should be examined in case by case situation. However one thing is retain is that preventing a problem can be more cost efficient then resolving it once it occurs. Thus business has a moral obligation to make a good faith effort to protect the environment and reduce its impact on it.
The industrialization had a positive effect on the development of the Western civilization during the end of the nineteen and all of the twentieth century. It Was done with some profound effects on the global ecosystems. Natural resources were used at will and the contamination of the environment was not given much consideration. Nowadays, as we realized that natural sources have limits and effects of the polluted environment beginning to threaten our own way life, we should be more sensitive, when making business decisions. As human populations increases exponentially, the world has become more interconnected.
The pollution and greenhouse emissions in one area can have negative effect on quality of life for people thousands of miles away. One may wonder if there is a way to dispose of the manufacturing wastes and greenhouse gases that considers everybody’s interests. Probably, there is no such way. Somebody would have to pay the price as some areas of the globe would naturally be more affected than there. Businesses should not consider third world countries as the means to their ends.
They should focus on sustainable development of the local economy. Lifting people out poverty, providing for basic needs and offer them a source of reliable income should be the main goals of any company. But businesses should not forget their other moral obligations and being sensitive to the local ecosystems is one of them. Balancing these goals would not be easy. The positive example of approaches that can promote sustainability and raise quality of life could be fair trade practices.
By paying Geiger prices for goods producers are obligated to invest some portion of the income to promote sustainable agricultural techniques. Fair trade practices promote the advances in social and environmental standards. However, this approach had limited success as it puts companies that use it in disadvantage to their competition that does not employ it. We, as educated consumers, should support such efforts, despite higher prices. Such unconventional approach benefits all of us in a long run.
Companies should not consider their social and moral obligations as threats to their profits. I think they should rather complement each other. But what kind of social responsibility programs can businesses embrace? Some of the most important aspects are sustainability and efforts to reduce the effects on the climate change. In the competitive environment, companies are forced to innovate. Raising energy costs, political instability in developing countries, terrorism and more demanding government regulations are some of the reasons to focus on the sustainability.
Long-term cost saving and efficiencies can be another benefits of proper implemented social responsibility programs. Recently companies became increasingly interested in creating a positive image in minds of attention consumers. A good reputation takes a while to build, but as several latest financial scandals proved it can be easily destroyed. Being innovative in reducing the environmental impact is the best way to get positive press. Responsible businesses can be rewarded with greater brand equity and increased market share.
Green energy sources are the energy of the future. Rising energy prices and global demand leave no choice but to encourage innovation and sustainability. In the nearest future we can expect businesses to put more emphases on the social responsibility programs. Both businesses ND consumers are increasingly interested in reducing the environmental impact and improving overall social well-being of the people. Agrees with the assertion that only poor third world countries pay the price for the pollution.
It is unavoidable to some degree and we all share the negative impacts of uncontrolled pollution of the environment. Nevertheless the business community has social and moral responsibilities to invest resource in order to curb their emissions and reduce waste as much as it is economically possible. People’s moral rights to a livable environment as well s the protection of ecological systems are some of ethical concerns that should be considered when making business decisions. However lifting people out of poverty, providing for their basic needs, increasing their quality of life and thus providing them with ability to make more choices is the priority. The government in the developing countries should play the stronger role in the correction of the market activities, regulation of emissions and protection of local ecosystems.
We, as educated consumers, should actively participate in the environmental protection by supporting businesses that do their part.