“Can a Car Company Grow in Harmony with the Environment?”

You’ve all seen the Toyota commercial that asks this question while, in what appears to be an Alaska-type wilderness, something that resembles a Toyota Prius is built from sticks and leaves and then, as the seasons pass, it crumbles and decays, leaving nothing behind.

The answer to their question is “no!” This commercial epitomizes the kind of sappy, disingenuous marketing employed by the pro-growth factions to appease the environmentalist in all of us with the notion of “sustainable development.” There is no such thing. The word “development” means taking land in its natural state and building upon it for use in some human endeavor. Now don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with “development.” There has to be development to accommodate humanity at a decent standard of living. We can exist in harmony with the environment at a certain level. But “sustainable” development to accommodate never-ending population growth is a myth.

Some time ago, the chemical company from which I retired announced plans for a new, grass-roots plant on the Texas gulf coast. In order to get it approved by the Department of Natural Resources, they worked a deal in which other pristine land would be set aside and forever protected, supposedly. This project was held up as a shining example of sustainable development. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said. “Just exactly how is this sustainable?” If this practice were continued, it would result in half of the remaining, undeveloped land on earth being converted to industrial use. Virtually all experts agree that the human population has already exceeded the planet’s carrying capacity. There is nothing sustainable about bulldozing more of it.

If Toyota had asked “can a car company exist in harmony with the environment,” the answer would be “yes,” at least on some scale. But growth isn’t sustainable and can’t take place “in harmony with the environment.” Give Toyota credit for building fuel-efficient vehicles like the Prius, but shame on them for using it as a ploy to justify their never-ending growth agenda.


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