Many people believe that water is just nothing, which in a way they are somewhat correct. Have you ever looked at the label on bottled water? What do you see or better yet what don’t you see. You don’t see numbers on the nutritional facts of bottled water because water is just that nothing, or is it? Water makes up about 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is, and the oceans hold about 96. 5 percent of all Earth’s water. The water bottling industry is worth over $65. 9 billion dollars. Nestlé Company’s Ice Mountain bottled water plant is one of the newest companies to embark on the billion dollar industry.
Nestle’ Ice Mountain company has invested $100 million to build a new 410,000-square-foot bottling plant in Mecosta County, Michigan. There is some controversy about how much is to be pumped out of the springs. Locals are staying that 262 million gallons a year is too much. Who is right? In this paper I am going to explore this case from three different perspectives utilitarian approach, the libertarian alternative, and the Rawlsian theories of justice. Then I will choose which approach I found the most helpful. The Utilitarian approach holds that the maximization of happiness ultimately determines what is just and unjust.
According to John Stuart Mill’s contended more specified that the concept of justice identifies certain rules or rights. Mill’s theory promotes well-being and injustice always involves violating the rights of some identifiable individual. Utilitarian’s favor whichever economic system will be the most good for society as a whole. As a Utilitarian the answer must depend on the relevant social, economic and political facts. In this situation Utilitarian would state that the environment is at risk no matter how much water Nestle’ draws out; the pumps need to be turned off.
A Utilitarian would not allow Nestle to continue pumping the water because it wouldn’t benefit the community. Nestle violates two fundamental issues: (1) immediate environmental harm to rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, and habitat in the zone of influence where the spring water pumping is occurring; and (2) the threat to the public trust doctrine namely that the natural resources (including groundwater) of the state belong to the people of the state, because the bottling of Michigan spring water is the privatization of water for profit and diversion outside the Great Lakes.
The 1836 treaty protects the fishing and hunting rights in the great lake region, three American Indian tribes brought a federal lawsuit against Nestle’ and the state of Michigan to stop massive water grab (Barry & Shaw p. 131). According to Jim Olson argues that “Every gallon removed is needed for the stream to sustain itself. ” He also states that “The right to withdraw groundwater does not induce the right to diminish …existing or future uses” (Barry & Shaw p. 31). Although Nestle’ is leasing the land for 99- years. The water itself is a public resource it is under the doctrine of “reasonable use”. These are all reasons that a utilitarian wouldn’t not allow Nestle’ to continue pumping. On the hand libertarian theory identifies justice with liberty, which libertarians understand as living according to one choice, free from the interferences of others. Libertarians’ reject utilitarian’s concerns for total social well-being.
The Philosophy of a libertarian is to live according to one’s own choices providing that the attempt to coerce others and thus prevent them from living according to their choices. Libertarians refuse to restrict individual liberty even if doing so would increase overall happiness. Although individual liberty is something that all of us value, it may not be the only thing we value. Libertarians refuse to restrict individual liberty even if doing so would increase overall happiness.
Under the act of a libertarian approach Nestlé’s would be allowed to pump as little as 130 gallons of water to as much as 400 gallons of water a minute. The 262 million gallons Nestle’ wants to pump is less than 1% of the annual recharge rate of the local watershed equivalent to just 14 minutes of evaporation from the surface of Lake Michigan. The big business of bottling water would allow Nestle’ to invest $100 million to build a new 410,000-square-foot bottling plant in Mecosta. Nestlé’s’ is estimated to ake annual sales of 6 billion and hundreds of jobs for people making $12 to $23 per hour. In addition, the company will give hundreds of thousands of dollars in local taxes. Nestle’ has leased the land for 99 years so Nestle is entitled to “property” in all fairness. The final approach that I will discuss is the Rawls theory. The Rawls theory states that “Justice is the first virtue of social institution,” meaning that a good society is one structured according to principals of justice.
Rawls theory is aimed at formulating a conception of the basic structure of society in accordance with social justice—justice as fairness. Rawls theory determines the essential principles of justice on which a good society may be based. He explains the importance of justice for two key principles: first, each person has a right to the most extensive scheme of liberties compatible with others having the same amount of liberty; and secondly, to be justified, any inequalities must be to the greatest expected benefit of the least advantaged and open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity.
Applying the Rawls theory to the Nestle’ case it would have to benefit both parties equally and fairly. The only way to make sure that both parties are equally satisfied is to establish a water pumping permit to reduce pumping by almost half. Nestlé will need to lower its spring pumping in Mecosta earlier in the spring during fish spawning and continue low pumping during the summer months to protect the already stressed stream and lake. This solution is the best way to maintain the fish and wildlife will be taken care of.
The residents of Michigan and Nestlé’s water bottling company will still make a great profit. After evaluating the utilitarian, libertarian and Rawlsian theories I have found the each theory is unique. Each theory has very valid points on what is important to the company and to Nestle’ as a business. The theory approach that I find the most helpful would have to the Rawls theory. The Rawls theory caters to both parties involved in an equally fair way.