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green@work : Magazine : Between Blue & Yellow : March/April 2006

Between Blue and Yellow

Buying Into Green

By Sarah Christy

There are a host of analogies and sayings we can use to make the point that history repeats itself—the circle of life; the wheel has come full circle; and the numerous other ways this has been stated by a catalog of individuals ranging from Emerson to Marx. Now we see this concept once again, this time as it pertains to renewable energy sources and corporations. In a time in which the icons of corporate America make the news by standing trial for criminal activity, it is a relief to see those who are instead acting as a catalyst for change. There are still those who believe that doing business the right way can be profitable.

In this issue’s guest column by Dennis Walsh, we are taken back to the birth of America; a time when the undiscovered frontier dwarfed small settlements along the Atlantic coast. As these communities grew in, and the industrial age began, we are reminded of how this shift in the ecological balance began to affect business in America. After years of deforestation, the landscape described by the writers of the day was dwindling. To help preserve a tourist industry that was booming due to romanticism of steamboats and trains, the government passed the Forest Reserve Act of 1891. This act helped then-President Theodore Roosevelt and the Sierra Club save millions of acres of forest land, thus saving a vital industry.

After years of society plundering resources in the name of growth and expansion, we see a shift back to the days of Muir and Roosevelt in Bruce Piasecki’s and Peter Asmus’ cover piece about why Wall Street is turning green. Here we are brought into the world of financial giant Goldman Sachs and its efforts to push new forms of corporate social responsibility. The authors explain how Goldman Sachs and other financial institutions see a clear need to look to the long term in regard to the world’s economic viability. In contrast to the image of the corporate fat cat, Piasecki and Asmus explain how Goldman Sachs is pressing the current administration to adopt more environmentally responsible policies.

In another article, Piasecki and Asmus bring to light the need for governmental intervention in one of America’s most struggling industries, automotive. With the steep rise in gasoline prices, the sale of large automobiles has dropped as consumers look to more efficient foreign models. The authors go on to explain that General Motors and the other American automakers have stated that they are poised to move into more fuel-efficient autos, such as hydrogen cells, but are hesitant. Without government regulation, the first one to jump into the proverbial icy waters could stand to lose an enormous amount of money in market share and research and development. With sales dwindling, that’s a risk none of these companies can afford to take.

With finance and transportation making noise on behalf of government, we know that two of society’s biggest dogs are barking at the president and Congress to step in. As time goes on, we need to watch to see if their bite is as mean as their bark.


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