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Focus On Growth

April 9, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 15

As I read Rudy Baum’s “Custom Chemicals” editorial, my yellow marker pen struck “business is improving,” “fine chemicals market will expand,” “healthy profits,” and “economic forces are reshaping” (C&EN, Jan. 30, page 3).

Then I turned to the letters page, as Baum should have done since he may have then shouted “stop the presses” or the e-equivalent. There, with the headline “Three Cheers for Capitalism,” a reader cites Baum’s statement that “you can’t have a sustainable economic system based on exponential growth on a finite planet” (page 4). Disparate points of view?

Nowhere in the first editorial is there an indication that growth (a word addressed and defined by the reader), not only of the pharmaceutical industry but all human activity, should be tempered, in fact, reeled in by thought and action for waste and environmental damage. Fixating on billions of dollars in sales, grinding teeth at competition with India and China, and expressing concern at a second wave of emerging markets without consideration of further irreversible changes that we may inflict on our planet is definitely careless and at least negligent.

But I will back off with appreciation for Baum’s well-timed editorials in general and the resolute views expressed.

By Victor Snieckus
Kingston, Ontario


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