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Elusive middle in environment-industry debate

Published: Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 2:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 2:14 p.m.

The arguments between environmentalism and industrialization have convincing, logical speakers on both sides; likewise, they both have extremists that spoil the names of their cause.

The key to the puzzle, some suggest, would be to find a balance between the two alternating ideologies — a world where the environment was protected, but not at the cost of the advancement of technology and humanity.

Junior Will Aikins empathizes with both sides of the argument, but points out that industrialization more than anything is inescapably vital: “Industrialization is important. As technologies evolve, societies must keep industrializing.” Aikins pointed out that many environmentalists, in his opinion, see anti-industrialization as the only hope for saving the Earth. Aikins disagrees with these one-sided thoughts: “People who want to stop industrialization, of course, want to preserve the planet. But we can preserve the planet without halting industrialization.”

A prime example of the danger of over-industrialization is seen in the Earth’s rainforests — dozens of acres are destroyed every minute in order to fuel the jaws of business. Aikins understands the worry, but is convinced that the rainforest isn’t in as much danger as many would think. “People, tell us it’s in jeopardy, but the rainforest is absolutely massive. Will it eventually be in danger? Yes. But we have a lot of forest there. Much of South America is rainforest.”

Industrialists, for the most part, seem to be stereotypically classified as “fat cats”: corporate money-hungry rulers. Aikins acknowledged that many of these labels are true: “Some industrialists are at fault because they want to cut down the rainforest simply to make money. It comes down to money and land.” Aikins was also quick to address the stereotype that support of industrialization was a politically right-leaning ideology, much like environmentalism is associated with the left: “Yes, I’m center-right (politically). . . But this belief (in industrialization) is not tied to one political party.”

Additionally, Aikins pointed out that the criticism of industrialists was unfair, as every human contributes to industrialization, whether willingly or unwillingly. “Honestly, humans are causing nearly all pollution on the planet. Some of it is the industrialists, sure. But it’s also the people. You drive your car every day, you pollute.

Essentially, even the most die-hard anti-industrialist is a contributor to industry.

“It all comes down to supply and demand,” Aikins added. Industrialization is basically encouraged by today’s competitive market economy and the pressure it puts on corporations and industries.

Junior Dillon Quinn is a classmate to Aikins, and while he supports Will’s economic theory, he parts minds when it comes to the ethics. “I agree with the ‘supply and demand’ theory,” Quinn admitted. “But you don’t need to cut down a forest to build a Wal-Mart — that’s all I’m saying.”

As every forest is saved or bulldozed, and as every factory is built or picketed, the argument over environmentalism and industrialization will continue. Hopefully, able minds will prevail over the debate, and a happy neutral can be decided, before the last tree is cut down.

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