Industry has a very weird way of looking at the world and I got a glimpse of this the other day while out and about having a beer.
We sat down at a community style table and the guys next to me were having a very animated discussion that I wasn’t the least bit interested in eavesdropping on until I heard “methane” – at which point, my ears perked up.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t hear everything they were talking about because, as is typical in a brewery, there was a lot of background noise and my ears aren’t as young as they used to be.
Nevertheless, my interest was piqued and I definitely began intentional eavesdropping. I heard some discussion about reclaiming and circumventing and capturing … it became clear to me that these guys were talking about some kind of industrial plant.
Then, I hear them start espousing the ease with which plastic can be made and recycled, decrying the process of recycling glass. There was some mention of environmentalists, and I could hear enough to discern that it wasn’t a pleasant reference. I then heard one of them say something about the problem of plastic getting into the oceans….and….I shit you not, the guy I estimated to be the unapologetic industrialist of the two, straight up said “well, quit throwing stuff in the ocean”.
I was just gobsmacked. But not. Here I was, in a pub, accidentally intentionally eavesdropping, and I receive the most perfect analogy of how industry views the most complex problems we face, deciding between economy and a healthy environment: ‘let us do what we need to do to make money, and you guys just stop putting plastic in the ocean: not our problem’.
I wish taking up the environmental issues we have was as easy as telling people to not throw their garbage in the ocean. But that’s not the reality we live in and I was raised to believe that the best things in life are hard fought and well deserved.
What would it take to convince unapologetic industrialists that taking care of the environment is ultimately in their best economic interest? Do we have the luxury of time to wait for that answer?