The interest in the environment grows as the welfare state in the post-industrial society increases; first as a result of the demands for a healthier environment (an unpolluted land, clear water or pure air), and second as a catalysed result due to the frequent attacks on that environment. Development and wastes seem to be head or tail of the same coin. We want jobs, but the economic and industrial development is usually related with waste generation, pollution or contamination.
The acceleration of environmental degradation in the last few decades; the lack of attention of many governments concerned about the development, but without paying attention to the way in which it is carried out; the increase in the means of locomotion, the fuel consumption and the greenhouse effect; the damage to the ozone layer; the millions of tons of toxic residues; The effects of fertilisers in agricultural products and their filtration in the subsoil; the lack of investment in the maintenance of pollutant systems; the landfills that “adorn” many streets; the climate change, or the fire and destruction of equatorial forests, put us not at the beginning of a problem, but fully submerged in it.
In general, it is not clear that potentially polluting companies have assumed their total social responsibility. Today’s pollution is not known for how long will cause effects and how it will react associated to other factors. Naturally, it should not stop the economic growth; but without compromising the future and taking precautions to avoid irreparable damages. Legislation can go to drag on the catastrophic events, leaving loopholes.
The pollution, which undoubtedly affects all the industrialised countries, is also present in the least developed countries. The environmental law of the first world (who pollute must pay) leads to its multinationals, especially in mining and chemistry sectors, to install facilities or dispose wastes in countries of the second or third world where the repair of damage has lower cost or the responsibility can be evaded more easily.
The quality of product, the safety in the workplace and the environment should be generally accepted values. Apart from the social cost, it has an economic cost get them, but their lack also has another cost, even when we do not know who suffers from these. In this end of the century, environmental awareness has been established among citizens, public authorities and companies. There are a growing number of companies that accept the ethical challenges that their activities present and convert social responsibility into one more element of competitiveness and business ethics. But, when disasters occur and the damage caused by waste are so frequent, the efforts do not cease to seem insufficient, and more if this deficiency comes from who has more “power”. Then, we can say that it is necessary to provide more imaginative and effective solutions to preserve the environment that we will bequeath to future generations.