Defining “Green” in Business and Life
It was pointed out to me the other day that the evolution of the word “green” has taken place. Being green used to mean being new. Being green could also mean being sick, like “being green around the gills” when you feel like you are going to well you know. In previous decades and, may I say centuries, things that were green tended to be associated with being old or past their prime due to mold and decay (okay if you can’t picture this immediately, flash back to the days of dormitory refrigerators and bachelor living).
Green has also been associated with money. Green backs. Green for profitability.
Green is now about being environmentally friendly and aware. Green is still also about profitability and opportunity. It is, whether some like to admit it or not, a capitalistic world economy – even in communist countries!
Green for Green’s Sake – But Which Green?
This question has been asked in analyzing the markets and companies: “How can you tell if a company is truly dedicated to the principles of environmental conservation and “truly green” versus in it purely for “the green” – profits?” Well, it is a great question. Another is this: “Does it matter why, if the result is the same?” If companies are profitable and succeed due to their commitment to environmentally friendly products and operations, and that results in other companies entering the market and “mimicking” the behavior and the products, does it matter if they truly believe in what they are doing or is it just that they do it?
Buying Credits and Consuming Resources – What’s Up with That?
I must confess that I don’t understand the concept of carbon offset purchases. It reminds me of my days in corporate cost savings accounting where various departments would get credits for not doing things they never intended to do. So they would take cost reduction credits on the budgets as proposed which would reduce the overall numbers. They would, in fact, not reduce the actual dollars required to be spent or have any real dollar impact on the company. No resources saved. No costs truly avoided. No real cost savings. All paper and theoretical mathematics – someone didn’t do something and someone else “paid” to take the credit, but the overall resource expenditures stayed the same. So, how does one company using the same level of resources it always has, and another having a lower consumption rate (again which it always had), and the exchange of cash between the two actually change the world-wide total of resources consumed? It seems an awful lot like that magic paper shuffling and mathematical “magic” I saw early in my corporate career with a bit of capital market exchange of cash added to the mix. I think it really just moved from one column to another with cash exchanged. Because I haven’t studied the process or the accounting, so if someone has all the details on how these carbon credits reduce pollution and consumption of resources, please do call me with the full story.
Where Was I – Oh, How Green Are We?
Wind, water, sun, coal, gas, oil, plants, soil, minerals – limited resources. Precious resources. If we grow it, the land and water in which it grows must be cared for. Land and water are scarce, precious, and precarious resources. They can be over-farmed and are subject to contamination, drought, flood, fire, and other natural disasters. The competition between fuel crops and food crops can and will have significant impact on economic markets and food supplies as each farmer and country make choices as to what to grow and supply. As each makes choices on how to produce the largest crops – fertilizers, irrigation, clearing of forests for more land to farm…
Wind farms with the complaints of how “ugly” they are to look at and the “not in my backyard” attitudes… Coal mining with the inherent dangers and the need for improved safety and clean coal technology. The issues and opportunities and the need for planning and a well thought “Green Energy and Economic Strategy” cannot be overemphasized. For the right reasons whether they are environmental or economic, both have to be long term perspectives, for they will both reap the most good recognizing that everyone is green – new to this issue in the fullest and broadest sense of the issues, opportunities, and scope as it impacts emerging countries and established economies.
We Know Less Than We Think – Certainty is Uncertain
Thinking green. Living green. Going green. All require understanding that there is no one answer. Capitalistic motives may in fact provide faster answers and more efficient methods than all the regulations and emotional motives could. There is a fiduciary role that mankind undoubtedly has to the world and to its occupants. The role of economies that have already “advanced” technologically is not to find a way to hold back the rest of the world’s development. It is not to make presumptive theories and call them fact. It is not to be short-sighted and narrow-minded in opinion and blast any view that is not in agreement with the current “accepted” theories and methods. If there is to be an answer that is truly viable, for all nations and all times, then it must be one that is capable of being sustained by all nations and for all nations and for all times. The current approaches, both old and new, cannot be sustained. They do not recognize the limitations and constraints that exist or that they create for nations and people that are advancing and have a right to advance technologically, politically, and in every other way. They are going green for survival. Green is opportunity and life. It is survival. It is food. It is growth. It is the world at its best and it is evolving. It is profits. It is energy. It is change. It must be sustainable. It must be more than one man’s vision, one group’s message, one theory or belief. If we are to succeed at being good stewards of anything, then we must recognize that the only certainty we have in understanding our world is that there is much more we don’t know about what has happened, is happening, and will happen than we do know.
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