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of Sustainable Development While it’s obvious the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro did not solve the
world’s environmental problems, it did lay a foundation for continued
progress. The emphasis of the event was to integrate economic and
environmental issues into the philosophy of sustainable development. . . .
Within the chemical industry, we’re beginning to see more and more
examples of how speciﬁc companies are making great strides toward
sustainability. The chemical industry has the means and the desire—not
to mention the technological expertise—to become part of the solution.
I believe that by working with governments and the environmental
community in a productive and cooperative manner, the chemical industry
can help to make sustainable development a reality.
(DOW CHEMICAL CEO, FRANK POPOFF IN CHEMICAL WEEK, 24 JUNE 1992, P. 18). HISTORICAL CONTEXT
O F S U S TA I N A B L E D E V E L O P M E N T The positive spin on environmental protection that Mr. Popoff promotes in
his commentary in Chemical Week deviates sharply from the responses the
chemical industry has typically taken to plans by government and environmentalists to curb the negative effects of chemical production. In the 1960s,
the industry belittled Rachel Carson and her claim that DDT was harmful to
220 THE SOCIOLOGY OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT 221 both environmental and human health. The industry regularly lobbies Congress to limit the amount of legislation placed on chemical production. What
happened for the CEO of Dow Chemical to write a call-to-arms to fellow industry leaders to work with the government and environmentalists, traditional
foes, in a “productive and cooperative manner . . . [to] help make sustainable
development a reality”? What does sustainable development promise that earlier attempts at environmental protection did not?
The most commonly used definition of sustainable development (SD)
comes from the 1987 report prepared by the World Commission on
Environment and Development (WCED, also known as the Brundtland
Commission) titled, O...
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