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The following is a GRE-style sentence-completion question, where you must fill each blank with a suitable option from the three given. I emboldened the right choices.

For environmental advocates, the increased focus on ecoefficiency (measures to reduce negative environmental impact brought on by businesses processes) might seem (i) ______. Were these advocates more informed on the possible ramifications of ecoefficient practices, they would likely regard those businesses conforming to ecoefficient standards with (ii) ______. For one, businesses that conform to such standards and become profitable can reinvest this money into industries that are ecoinefficient, or these businesses, if wildly successful, can through sheer scale create more (iii) ______ than they did before.

an outdated approach
a counterproductive strategy
an unqualified gain

outright opposition
measured skepticism
a conciliatory stance

waste
opportunities
improvements

Why is the answer for the last blank "waste"? Is it not a good thing to reinvest into businesses that are ecoinefficient (to make them ecoefficient)? Also if these businesses are "wildly successful" then can't they make more improvements (through other businesses?). I don't understand it. I can understand from the sentence before it that the last word probably has a negative connotation, but I don't understand the last sentence itself.

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It's a lovely convoluted piece of tekst, isn't it? Let's see if we can translate it into English that normal people understand as well...

For environmental advocates, the increased focus on ecoefficiency (measures to reduce negative environmental impact brought on by businesses processes) might seem (i) ______.

Treehuggers(*) think that it is good to focus on "ecoefficiency".

Here, "good" is what you correctly identified as "an unqualified gain".

Were these advocates more informed on the possible ramifications of ecoefficient practices, they would likely regard those businesses conforming to ecoefficient standards with (ii) ______.

If those treehuggers would know better what they were talking about, they would be more skeptical about that "ecoefficiency".

You correctly identified "measured skepticism" to reflect "more skeptical".

For one, businesses that conform to such standards and become profitable can reinvest this money into industries that are ecoinefficient, or these businesses, if wildly successful, can through sheer scale create more (iii) ______ than they did before.

For starters, companies that do "ecoefficiency" could make so much money with it that they become very big and pollute more than they did when they were small.

And it is that pollution that is "waste".

So basically, this argument says that big "clean" companies can produce more waste than small "dirty" companies. And the "ecoefficent" measures may enable small "dirty" companies to become big "clean" ones.


(*) I was only looking for a short expression to more or less convey the idea of "environmental advocates". No offence intended. The specific choice of word does not reflect any political stance on environmental advocates, least of all my own.

  • I think this is an excellent analysis, regardless of one's own relationship to our arboreal comrades. – Max Williams Nov 6 '17 at 12:27

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