Poverty and Pollution Coursework Example
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Poverty and Pollution Coursework Example

Ethical Implications of Businesses Polluting in a Third World Country

Ethically the optimal level of pollution is the point at which the marginal benefit line intersects the marginal costs line on a graph of marginal benefits and marginal abatement costs. Kernohan (2012) says that people who are not benefiting from the activities of businesses causing pollution in third world countries suffer from the burdens of the harms caused by the pollution. The social optimum approach does not provide compensation to the innocent victims of pollution.

The ethical implications of businesses polluting in third world countries also concern issues of moral standing. Kernohan (2012) noted that the ethically optimal level of pollution considers only the interests of those in a particular market. This is due to the interests of people outside the market in distant countries or in the far future and the interests of living beings incapable of market transactions are not represented properly in the calculation of socially optimal level of pollution in third world countries.

Another ethical implication is how best to balance economic development and protection of human health and the environment in developing countries. Resnik (2012) says that economic development brought about by businesses in third world countries is important in promoting human health, reducing poverty and avoiding famine. However business activities related to transportation, mining, industry and agriculture produce pollution. This implies that there is a need to find the right balance of environmental and public health protection and economic growth. The ethical issue here is to understand the potential benefits and risks for public health associated with businesses polluting in developing countries.

Justice is another ethical issue related to businesses polluting in third world countries. Resnik (2012) says that urban residents are exposed to higher levels of ozone than residents of rural areas. The ethical question that should be addressed is whether these differences are fair and if not what should be done to address them. Some businesses in third world countries may choose to purchase a large number of pollution permits to greatly increase their output, which in turn could have adverse impacts on communities living near those polluters (Resnik, 2012). The ethical issue arising in this context is that the developing countries may argue that their economies are too fragile to bear even the slightest burden of greenhouse gases restrictions. Resnik (2012) also says that the businesses in those countries argue that they need to be allowed to develop economically before facing pollution restriction similar to those applied to developed nations.

The Reasons a Business May Conduct Operations in a Third World Country and Disregard any Standards of Pollution Control

Studies indicate that promoting technology transfer for development, global corporations have in the past engaged in eco-dumping. Kiggundu (2002) says that business conduct operations in third countries and disregard standards of pollution because government officials are under pressure to attract foreign direct investment in order to maintain high levels of economic growth. Kiggundu (2002) at the same time argues that global operations are under pressure to use the most effective methods of production in order to remain globally competitive. Competitive pressures create conditions of willing buyer and willing seller between the host government and the global corporation forcing them to negotiate down standards of pollution control.

Another reason is that business conducting operations in developing countries have special relationship with the host government and also with various interest groups in the wider community. Kiggundu (2002) says that because global corporations are treated as guests, care about their quality of the relationship they maintain with the host government may result to them disregarding pollution standards. It is also important to realize that some businesses operating in third world countries do not have the resources, capital, technology and human resources to invest in and operate pollution control and environmental management systems hence they may end up disregarding pollution standards (Kiggundu, 2002).

The Connections between Economic Progress, Development, Pollution Controls, and Environment Protection

There are several examples indicating that once a certain level of economic development has been reached, pollution levels increase at the same time (Sokhi & Molina, 2011). Economic progress and development bring about new technologies; many of them are less polluting. The relationship between economic progress and pollution is not always fixed but is dependent on several factors such as what is acceptable in the society and their social living conditions.

Research shows that the growth in population is major drive in economic development and a source of environmental pollution. Sokhi & Molina (2011) noted that the number of people in a certain area determines the economic development of that place hence the overall livelihood activities lead to pollution. The majority of governments around the world have advanced strategies to improve the living conditions of their people around the world and this is expected to spur the increase of pollution.

According to Reyes & Sawyer (2011), pollution levels naturally rise as consumers in middle income countries obtain goods such as cars and industry becomes a larger percentage of GDP. Also in middle income countries, growth in GDP per capita is usually the most important economic policy goal. With this constraint, environmental concerns are seen as temporality being of secondary importance. Reyes & Sawyer (2011) also noted that environmental damage that occurs early in the process of economic development may in some cases be irreversible.

Why Human Beings have a Moral Right to a Livable Environment Regardless of the Country they live in

It is true that human beings have a moral right for a livable environment despite the country they live in. This is because this right involves only certain minimal and basic duties on the part of others. Also this is on the basis that environment is one such thing that is now fully established as important for allowing human beings to fulfill their capacities. DesJardins (2012) says that a right to a livable environment need not imply a right to pristine and pure air and water but it would prohibit a laissez faire policy in regard to dumping toxic wastes, polluting the oceans with garbage and sewage and burning coal. DesJardins (2012) also says that carbon dioxide pollution would be wrong if it harmed other human beings by threatening their health or property. After learning that some harmful effects of carbon dioxide pollution might not occur for generations the ethical concepts such as duties and rights should be extended for the future generations.

Human beings have a moral right to a livable environment because generations of the future will need and want at least some natural and environmental capital. Keijzers (2005) says that on the basis of little information about the future, it is still possible to draw ethical conclusions on present environmental behavior. Future generations will probably not be indifferent to the degradation of biodiversity caused by the present generation. Keijzers (2005) thus says that the right to a livable environment will ensure that qualitative and quantitative losses of ecosystems will not affect future production and reproduction capacities hence guaranteeing quality life and livable environment of all people despite their country of origin.

Why Wealthy Nations have an Obligation to Provide Poorer Nations with, or Help them Develop, Greener Industries and Sources of Energy

It is true that wealthy nations are obligated to provide poorer nations with greener industries and energy sources. According to Patel, Sooknanan & Rampersad (2012), developed countries should invest in research and development with a view of making green industries more efficient and reliable as well as improve quality. The result will be dramatic increase in production with a corresponding decline in the cost of renewable energy technologies. Patel, Sooknanan & Rampersad (2012) indicted that to have the desired effect of a green revolution these cost savings need to be transferred to developing countries. This implicates that developed countries need to pay far more attention to promoting use of green energy and to establishing sources of green energy in developing nations.

It is crucial that developed countries help developing countries financially so that they could fight with the menace caused by the phenomenon of global warming. World donor organizations are uniquely suited to accelerate the development of renewable energy and to facilitate its transfer to developing countries. Patel, Sooknanan & Rampersad (2012) says that skillful use of large purchases can accelerate investments in the production of renewable energy equipment in developing countries. Since developed countries have the finances and expertise in terms of technology and human resources, they should help developing countries to come up with green industries and renewable sources of energy. Financing from developed countries can help increase the adoption of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies especially in poorer countries.

The financing schemes from developed countries should minimize transaction costs, support high quality products, and work through established financing channels such as commercial banks or rural credit cooperatives. Studies indicate that financing is the most effective in combination with other policies such as financial incentives and the creation of marketing. Developed countries should also come up with incentives to reward energy savings or renewable energy output rather than reward investment. This can be achieved through purchasing carbon credits in developing countries especially where green technologies have been adopted.

Plans for Uniform Global Pollution Control Standards and How to Enforce the Standards

Uniform global pollution standards ensure that maximum acceptable levels of pollutants are established and firms that exceed these levels are punished usually through fines. Brux (2010) says that global firms can therefore be forced into compliance with the standard. The global standards may first be classified as performance or design standards. A performance standard specifies a certain level of performance or compliance that must be met. The regulating agency might require the firm to reduce the pollutants emitted in a combustion process by 10% without specifying the means by which this standard will be met.

The design standard specifies not only the required level of performance but also the means of reaching that level. Control of auto emissions by the installation of catalytic converters is an example of a design standard (Brux, 2010). Also pollution fees or pollution permits are another type of control. Both plans are more flexible and rely on the market place to control pollution more efficiently than standards regulation. Brux (2010) noted that with the help of this type of control, id a company chooses to eliminate its pollution, the higher costs of doing so will also cause supply to decrease. The important aspect is that fees do not force technology but instead they give firms n incentive to look for least-cost techniques to cut pollution and fees. From the view of enforcement and administration, pollution fees are easier to administer than are standards.

Global pollution permits, and pollution fees are incentive based control schemes, which utilize the efficiencies of the marketplace. Brux (2010) says that these global controls do work and they are less expensive because they do not stifle technological change. Global pollution permit controls have taken on a more vital role in the context of a cap and trade system. To enforce these controls, each player is given a permit based on the estimated amount of emission his business causes to the environment.


Brux, J. M (2010). Economic Issues and Policy (with InfoApps 2-Semester Printed Access Card).

Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.

DesJardins, J. R. (2012). Environmental Ethics: An Introduction to Environmental Philosophy.

Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.

Kernohan, A. (2012). Environmental Ethics: An Interactive Introduction. Peterborough, ON:

Broadview Press.

Keijzers, G. (2005). Business, Government and Sustainable Development. London, UK:


Kiggundu, M. N. (2002). Managing Globalization in Developing Countries and Transition

Economies Building Capacities for a Changing World. Westport, CT: Greenwood

Publishing Group.

Patel, F. Sooknanan, P & Rampersad, G (2012). Information Technology, Development, and

Social Change. London, UK: Routledge.

Resnik, D. B. (2012). Environmental Health Ethics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University


Reyes, J. A. & Sawyer, W. C. (2011). Latin American Economic Development. London, UK:

Taylor & Francis.

Sokhi, R. S. & Molina, M. (2011). World Atlas of Atmospheric Pollution: Revised Edition. New

York, NY: Anthem Press.

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