“Will Big Business Save the Earth?” – NYTimes.com

A persuasive article in the NY Times from Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs and Steel and Collapse, and WWF board member, on how big business can sometimes be a great force for good:

“I’ve discovered that while some businesses are indeed as destructive as many suspect, others are among the world’s strongest positive forces for environmental sustainability… Lower consumption of environmental resources saves money in the short run. Maintaining sustainable resource levels and not polluting saves money in the long run. And a clean image — one attained by, say, avoiding oil spills and other environmental disasters — reduces criticism from employees, consumers and government.”

He goes on to discuss case studies from Coke, Chevron and Wal-mart, then dismisses typical objections to business taking the environment seriously.

On climate change, he argues that there is now no significant disagreement about climate change:

“[Experts disagreed about the reality of climate change] 30 years ago, and some experts still disagreed a decade ago. Today, virtually every climatologist agrees that average global temperatures, warming rates and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are higher than at any time in the earth’s recent past, and that the main cause is greenhouse gas emissions by humans. Instead, the questions still being debated concern whether average global temperatures will increase by 13 degrees or “only” by 4 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050, and whether humans account for 90 percent or “only” 85 percent of the global warming trend.”

And that it’s absurd not to act now on the basis of remaining uncertainty:

“In other spheres of life — picking a spouse, educating our children, buying life insurance and stocks, avoiding cancer and so on — we admit that certainty is unattainable, and that we must decide as best we can on the basis of available evidence. Why should the impossible quest for certainty paralyze us solely about acting on climate change? As Mr. Holdren, the White House adviser, expressed it, not acting on climate change would be like being “in a car with bad brakes driving toward a cliff in the fog.”


About David

I am an environmental writer, journalist and speaker living in Cape Town, South Africa.
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2 Responses to “Will Big Business Save the Earth?” – NYTimes.com

  1. Andrew Pelt says:

    I like your content on your website, but it looks as though your RSS feed is getting a 404 error? Maybe it has something to do with your host. I just thought from webmaster to webmaster I would warn you of this problem so you don’t miss out on potential subscribers! If it still works for you have a friend try it, could be keeping out external connections.

  2. Thanks very much, Andrew. The site is hosted by WordPress.com, and I know they’ve problems in the last day or two. The feed seems to be working fine now.

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