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Environmental Studies 6

Updated on September 1, 2011

Below is the sixth reading response for my Environmental Studies class.

Several environmental mediums, such as Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff depict corporations as ignorant, voracious, and obese top-hat-wearing instigators and perpetrators of environmental problems. However, corporations have serious motives to solve environmental issues.

Leonard argues that in the past, present, and future corporations destroy nature to earn profits. However, corporations’ profit motive ensures that they will not continue to destroy nature. Corporations desire to create the cheapest and most effective products because individuals want them and they are inexpensive to make. Essentially, profit motivates corporations to create ideal products, but ideal products cannot be constructed before inferior ones. Furthermore, ideal products are environmentally friendly, for they use inexpensive renewable fuels, produce clean and harmless unobtrusive waste work as well as their predecessors, and cost the same. Simply imagine a car with these attributes. Any corporation that created it would become exceedingly wealthier.

Since most environmentalists blame corporations for instigating and perpetuating environmental destruction, they turn to the government to provide solutions. However, the government has no motivation to do so. If the government was motivated, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recommendations to develop water conservation techniques and efficient farming would already be accomplished, for the state subsidizes water utilities and farmers. However, these subsidies eliminate any motivation to develop, for they remove all fear of bankruptcy caused by a competitor’s superior product. Water utilities and farmers never worry about profits because they are always guaranteed money from the government.

Environmentalists must remember that corporations’ environmentally harmful past is not vicious. Attacking corporations for their former inferior environmentally harmful products is like attacking the man who invented fire because he did not invent the light bulb. The light bulb is the ideal; however, man has no idea how to make it unless he makes fire first.


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