Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Is "Green Capitalism" Just A Snooze Button?


A question that I return to frequently, as I ponder the ecological information that I glean from the Goddard Institute among others, is the prospect that we are still hitting the snooze button instead of waking up and doing what needs to be done on behalf of future generations -- starting as early as my son's generation.

One of the larger snooze buttons employed by the so-called "first world," the nations with the most military and economic strength, and their delegations charged with shaping global policy, is a fantasy that has been called "the greening of capitalism."

There are nice ideas to be found in this framework. Businesses could recycle more, reduce packaging, reduce chemicals, ship on rail rather truck wherever possible, and more. Oh yes, and we can build new profitable industries to develop a 'green' infrastructure, too. Those are nice ideas, when we consider them apart from the market pressures at work. Add the market pressures back in to the scenario, and the behavior changes.

Let technology and the market solve the problem, we are told. Yet will technological solutions, even when found, be implemented by the largest corporations, even when the established system provides them with a competitive edge? Will pressure by consumers induce meaningful changes, structural changes in our established methods of production and habits of consumption? Or will it simply inspire new P.R. initiatives, showing us how "green" the companies are while they conduct business exactly as usual?

I have my doubts. I'm not knocking the businesses that sincerely want to move in that direction, but given how fast nature is moving -- how fast our habitat is changing -- these may be mincing increments that address too little, too slowly.

My suspicion is we need to be preparing for changing how we live -- how we produce food and goods, how we transport them, and how we consume.

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