Rob Nixon, an english professor currently working at Princeton University, wrote a book in 2011 called Slow Violence And Environmentalism Of The Poor which outlined a major theme of industry and the environment which is waste. The overlying point of focus on this matter Nixon stressed is the injustice of large industry based on their waste displacement on poorer communities. This plays a two sided issue, the first being the moral disconnections of those using poor countries to their advantage, and the second is in regards to waste in general. My take on the major themes is that yes morally it is not correct to just use weaker nations/places to dispose of waste, but it is hard to just wish waste away. To do this in the most cost efficient way economically makes all the sense in the world. For example in the chapter “Of Vampire Suids and Resource Rebels” highlights the negatives on the costs for a large business to use powerless communities as disposal sites.
Before based solely on economics, I was slightly blinded to the health risks associated with this phenomena, in particular the infringement some industry has on infrastructure. This was especially apparent when Nixon wrote the following: “Under such circumstances, visual reminders of theft through modernity’s infrastructural invasions–by oil pipelines or massive hydroelectric dams or toxic tailings from mines–foment rage at life-threatening environmental degradation” (Nixon, 2011 p. 42). Sympathising with the issue now becomes more easy for me to do based both on humanities and economics. Yes it is never acceptable to continue to act once many lives are put in jeopardy because of an industrial decision. Economically this can be assessed by more of a cost of abatement based analysis vs total cost and analyzing marginal cost associated with these two scales. Let’s say figuratively a company sets up an industrial headquarters in a poor part of the country, or a distant country. They do this to maximize profit with low rent/cost of property owning in a place like these mentioned above. Say they have a pipe excreting waste material directly into a controlled lake. Environmentally fish are now found with increased toxins, which then affects humans indirectly through contamination and people become sick. If there is now a lawsuit made against this company asking for “x” amount of dollars, the company should have the right as long as they are still abiding by law to continue using this lake. What the company should do is factor in the cost of cleaning up the waste/paying out the people in the lawsuit vs their total profit. If their is a decrease in profit and a further decreased benefit for people using the lake then the company should make an economically based decision not to if it in their eyes is all about money.
Let me elaborate more on the environmental side of things in relation to marginal benefit that speaks to me as an avid fly fisherman. Many new dams are being created in up and coming areas especially in the west and the northwest. For me as a passionate fisher, I look at these dams with a negative view solely based on the fact that they prevent treasured fish like trout and salmon both for recreation, the environment, and intrinsic reasons. On many forums, magazines, and social media sites, it seems like everyday that I get an update on a new petition
To remove or stop a dam from obstructing native runs of fish species. I never sign them but regardless, if there is such a loss in marginal benefit to an area because of its establishment, then dams should not be utilized. My only internal argument against this is that is the profiting is high, job creation is also high, and based on the fact that it is green electric that is being made then it makes up for its shortcomings environmentally. Overall it is not an issue that should be looked at one sided like Rob Nixon has formulated his argument from. You have to factor in other important features of industry rather than immediately assuming all they are is bad.