Nature Conservancy president Tercek and science writer Adams explore the possibilities of the environmental movement joining with the business community to tap nature’s capital, to the betterment of both.
Can activities that produce good environmental outcomes also produce good commercial results? Can the businessperson’s fundamental concerns square with the time-honored environmentalist’s belief in the natural world’s inherent value? The authors claim that there is plenty of common ground, and they provide a number of examples to make the point: Where would Coca-Cola be without a clean and plentiful supply of fresh water? This constitutes an opportunity to save habitats that “act as giant sponges,” from the high grasslands of Ecuador to the flood plains of the Mississippi River. The fishing industry can avoid the tragedy of the commons through easements, markets for trapped fish, communal fisheries and catch shares. McDonald’s has changed its purchasing policies to avoid alignment with the plunderers of the rain forest. Protecting coral reefs and planting drought-tolerant trees increases productivity while avoiding environmental degradation. Green urbanism is looking at the city system as a whole, providing green space and creating a framework for ecologically sensitive development. The authors call for long-term vision, particularly when it comes to our youth, who need encouragement and incentives to get outside and burnish their innate biophilia and sense of place. Occasionally, the authors’ optimism that business will see the long-term light may not convince skeptics appalled by the rush to frack and more deep-sea drilling, but there is no denying the opportunities available in the big picture.
A hopeful message that a sensible marriage of business and environmental interests is in the cards, which until now has mostly been trumped by shortsightedness.