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Doing Good Business


Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1993
ISBN: 0-88730-655-1
Publisher: HarperCollins

 It's not easy being green but, here, Hawken (Growing a Business, 1987, etc.) proposes a utopian scheme that, for all its good intentions, could make the process even harder. Proceeding from the assumption that the environmental depredations of profit-making enterprises ``are destroying life on earth,'' the author offers grim warnings on the status quo's presumptive perils. Among other vague and unsourced claims, he asserts: ``Given current corporate practices, not one wildlife reserve, wilderness or indigenous culture will survive the global economy.'' Bolstering his worst-case scenario with evidence that's longer on anecdotal vignettes than scientific data, Hawken goes on to present a three-point program in aid of what he calls a ``restorative'' economy. Among other recommendations, he calls for eliminating waste by recycling all resources; mandating the use of solar energy over fossil fuels; and encouraging diversity. Informed by an apparent antipathy toward big business, conspicuous consumption, mass production, and other of capitalism's hallmarks, the Hawken agenda envisions some decidedly radical solutions to the problems of an advanced industrial society. Cases in point range from cutting Fortune 500 companies down to size through imposing controls on markets (which, though effective at setting prices, fail in Hawken's view to reckon costs like pollution); nurturing smaller firms with government-supplied incentives; and levying penalty taxes on, say, farmers who use chemical (as opposed to organic) means of cultivation. Nor does Hawken much care for competition (``expensive and degrading for all involved''), advocating instead an interdependent private sector ``that co- evolves with the natural and human communities it serves.'' High-minded--if sometimes highhanded--prescriptions that will appeal to Hawken's large readership--as well as to, no doubt, Chicken Littles everywhere.