This week, green business guru Joel Makower encourages us to envision success in creating a clean, sustainable economy that averts climate catastrophe and improves our environment, communities, and lives. And shareholder activist John Harrington urges banks bailed out with Troubled Asset Relief Program funding to make sure they stabilize US economic security.
Green is the buzzword of the day, when it comes to business and the economy. But what is a green economy, and how do we distinguish between a coat of green painted on the old, now failing economy — and a truly clean, sustainable economy? These are the questions Joel Makower has been asking for decades. He founded the Green Business Letter in the early 1990s, and then launched GreenBiz.com in the early 2000s. The Associated Press calls him the “guru of green business.” His latest book, Strategies for the Green Economy, came out this year. Joel spoke with Sea Change Radio Co-Host Bill Baue from San Francisco on the heels of the release of the annual State of Green Business report from GreenBiz.
Makower started by discussing the good news, how business is greening in amazing ways, often under the radar screen of mainstream media. Makower calls this effect “greenmuting,” a term coined by Bob Langert of McDonald’s, and he notes the irony that companies like McDonald’s may be greening more than most individuals. Makower also discusses the bad news — that business is not greening enough, or fast enough, to avert environmental, social, and economic crises such as climate catastrophe, human rights abuses, and the financial meltdown.
Baue poses the specific example of GE to illustrate this paradox of good and bad news. Makower consulted on GE’s Ecomagination initiative, encouraging the company to set rigorous standards. The conversation expands to the broader issue of standards for a green economy, and Makower opines that green jobs, which currently lack clear definition, may be the next greenwash.
Makower ends with inspiration, using the example of Obama’s campaign of hope as a launching pad for encouraging us all to envision what success would look like in achieving a green economy that not only saves the world, but also improves our lives.