Wednesday, 26 December, 2007 5:31 PM
Can Americans Save The Planet?
take the initiative ahead of the government
Ecological concerns are growing on an international scale. Government
after government across the globe are recognizing the issues and
beginning to act accordingly. The notable exception has been our
own Federal Government who continues to remain passive on any subject
considered remotely green.
However, indications are filtering through that while Washington
might not be over-eager to do anything, the American people are
not just aware that changes need to be made, but are showing the
pioneering spirit by taking the initiative and acting where the
government fails to do so.
Recently the Mayors of the major Texan cities joined forces to implement
an air pollution clean-up of heavy industry. Texas is not often
associated with radical change, but this unlikely band of Mayors
knew that change was necessary and so set about eliciting a transformation.
What is perhaps most surprising in all this is that the target for
change was the State’s very cornerstone – its beloved
It is a solution that eminent government advisor Jonathon Porritt
has been advocating for some time. Whereas most green campaigners
attack big business and the capitalist system, Porritt says that
not only is heavy industry essential to eco-friendly change, but
that capitalism can actually continue to thrive from it.
“We must embrace capitalism as the overarching system capable
of achieving any kind of reconciliation between ecological conciliation
and the pursuit of property and personal wellbeing.” explains
Porritt of his solution. “This means working with the grain
of markets and free choice, not against it.”Porritt’s
model acknowledges the work of individuals and collectives (such
as the Texan Mayors) but uses capitalism itself to bring about permanent
and effective change – a model perfectly suited to the consumer-driven
American way of life.
It would also be a major coup for America to suddenly jump from
being the non-starter to world leader in environmental issues. “Is
it really possible to retain the best of the dynamism and efficiency
of capitalism while simultaneously learning to abide by the laws
of nature?” asks Porritt in his book “Capitalism as
if the World Matters” before going on to prove that it could.
It is a compelling thought; America being able to save the world
from environmental Armageddon through capitalism and the wills and
wants of the people – something that has hitherto been frowned
upon. But as Porritt points out “Changes have to be seen as
desirable changes. Changes which are good for people, their health
and their quality of life.” It’s almost as if he is
telling us we can eat our cake, and have it too. Change towards
a more environmentally sound future is inevitable, but thanks to
Porritt there is now a method by which industry can continue to
thrive and we can retain a prosperous and comfortable lifestyle.
About Jonathon Porritt
Jonathon Porritt is Co-Founder of Forum for the Future (the UK’s
leading sustainable development organization), he is an eminent
writer, broadcaster and commentator on sustainable development.
Porritt was appointed by Prime Minister Tony Blair as Chairman of
the Sustainable Development Commission in July 2000 – the
UK government’s principal source of independent sustainable
development advice. In addition, he has been a member of the Board
of the South West Regional Development Agency since December 1999,
and is Co-Director of The Prince of Wales Business and Environment
Program which runs Senior Executive’ Seminars in Cambridge,
Salzburg, South Africa and the USA. Porritt was formerly Director
of Friends of the Earth (1984-90); co-chair of the Green Party (1980-83)
of which he is still a member; chairman of UNED-UK (1993-96); chairman
of Sustainability South West, the South West round Table for Sustainable
Development (1999-2001); a Trustee of the World Wildlife Fund UK
(1991-2005). For his services in environmental protection, he was
made Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in January 2000, which
is the highest honor one can receive that does not confer a knighthood.
Source: News and
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