CEO’s Embrace Sustainability

Posted May 10th, 2011 by The Environment Site with No Comments

This article presents a vision for corporate sustainability and highlights how organisations can add value to not only their bottom line but also to the environment and society at large. With current examples of organisations putting their corporate sustainability strategy into action, this article provides a run down of who’s doing what and the skills and people required to initiate and maintain the drive to a low carbon economy.  Highlighting the increase in auditing and tighter sustainability regulation, this article also provides some useful advice on how to avoid the association with ‘green washing’ and ways in which an organisation can really embed sustainability within the heart of their corporate culture.

Investors are becoming increasingly receptive to sustainability.

Corporate sustainability is coming of age.  An overwhelming majority of FTSE 500 companies now voluntarily measure, manage, and publicly disclose their carbon emissions; and a collection of hi-tech solutions, clean technologies, and market tools have evolved in recent years to meet these demands.  Examples of successful corporate sustainability reporting can be attributed to Siemens and GE, recording environmental revenues of £16bn and £11bn respectively, and M&S showing how a CEO-led sustainability strategy can account for 10% of profit at a FTSE100 retailer.

The Co-Operative Group has also launched an ambitious sustainability plan at the beginning of March 2011, which promises to cut carbon emissions by 35% by 2017 and deploy over £1 billion of green energy finance by 2013.  By 2017, the Co-op wants to generate an equivalent of a quarter of its energy needs from renewables but aims to be carbon neutral in its operations by next year. The Group also pledges to reduce its water consumption by 10% over the next three years.

Driving change to a corporate sustainability strategy is a constant challenge, however an impressive 81% of the CEOs surveyed by The Guardian [1] stated that sustainability issues are now ‘fully embedded’ into their companies’ strategy and operations, with many extending this focus to their subsidiaries and supply chains.  It is clear that sustainability is no longer seen as a marketing fad and is now embraced at Board Level within leading corporations. This is also reflected in recruitment trends witnessed by Allen & York, leading international sustainability Recruiters.

Boardroom commitment to sustainability helps build a framework for robust corporate governance.

Writing in Ethical Corporation, Raffaello Raimondi, Principal Search Consultant at Allen & York comments on the rise of the Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO), “The first job on a CSO’s list is often to challenge accepted norms and radically change a corporation’s culture”.  Describing the ideal CSO’s background, Raimondi highlights that several years industry experience coupled with a MBA/Masters Degree and quite possibly experience in a leading strategic or environmental position features high on his check list.

By employing a dedicated CSO, Sustainability Director or Head of Sustainability, organisations can ensure the corporate sustainability strategy is not only overseen and managed accordingly but is also implemented to the highest standard so that oversights are not made.  When discussing his role at UPS, Scott Wicker, CSO at UPS highlights that:   “The long-term success of our company absolutely requires a balance of the environmental, economic and social aspects of the business. Sustainability encompasses all of those areas.”

Sustainability offers a proven and legitimate framework for exploiting new avenues for innovation and growth.

Initiatives such as the Carbon Plan, Green Investment Bank and the Electricity Market Reform demonstrate how the UK coalition government is well on the way up the regulatory escalator towards encouraging zero-carbon emissions within business.  The Carbon Plan, being a Government-wide plan of action on climate change and the Green Investment Bank are primed to invest in low-carbon infrastructure such as renewable energy and the development of new, clean technologies. Both, along with the Electricity Market Reform point towards a movement to monitor and regulate sustainability within business.

In addition, the UK government’s CRC Energy Efficiency scheme which came into effect in 2010 is a mandatory carbon emissions reporting and pricing scheme, with the first report due from organisations, which use more than 6,000MWh per year of electricity, in July 2011.  Whilst there has been some controversy about the scheme, it still remains that from 2012, participants will be required to buy allowances from the Government, each year, to cover their emissions in the previous year.

This means that organisations that decrease their emissions can lower their costs under the CRC. Companies better positioned to improve their energy efficiency, and save on CRC costs, will be those with a CSO or Head of Sustainability in place, who is able to oversee energy management, sustainable procurement and corporate social responsibility issues, coupled with implementing accurate carbon reporting.

A severe management deficit exists in the governance of climate change and sustainability risks and opportunities.

Being a key driver to corporate innovation and growth, a top down approach to corporate sustainability is required. Regulation, the role of the CSO and embedding sustainability into business practices also ensures that ‘green washing’ is avoided. Green washing is the team used for the deceptive use of green PR to embellish a company’s green credentials.  With a firm policy and strategy in place run by a dedicated CSO or Head of Sustainability, the company is able to produce clear and transparent evidence of their sustainable measures.

Further trends that Allen & York predict for 2011 include:

  • The embedding of sustainability as a core business strategy
  • Establishment of a consensus on the role of the sustainable development professional
  • The rise of the Chief Sustainability Officer
  • Increased transparency, an open society and a decrease in green washing
  • Supply chain engagement, where supplier’s performance is also monitored and reported on, forming part of the corporate sustainability strategy.
  • IT for green purposes growing at an exponential rate

Allen & York are a leading international Sustainability Recruitment consultancy, offering jobs and candidates in; Energy & Environmental Management, CSR & Sustainability, Low Carbon and Climate Change, Renewable Energy and Health and Safety Management.  For further information, please visit:


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Save the planet – burn gas!

Posted May 3rd, 2011 by The Environment Site with No Comments

Despite the billions of pounds spent promoting, subsidizing and developing renewables they still produce just 6.5 per cent of our energy needs.
According to the Renewable Energy Foundation, the UK has spent £5bn subsidizing wind farms, but we still missed the target, announced in 2001, of generating 10 per cent of our electricity from renewables by the end of the last decade. We are now supposed to be moving towards a 30 per cent target by 2020. That now looks like a long shot.

The present Government policy is to de-carbonise the electricity network through renewables and nuclear energy. However, the big fallout from the Japanese disaster is likely to be a series of delays caused by new safety reviews for that whole industry. Our first new reactor was scheduled to open in 2018 with others to follow over the ensuing decade. That was already way too late to plug our growing energy gap and now looks almost certain to be delayed further. It will also inevitably lead to additional cost.

So, solution: Burn gas. There is hundreds of years worth of ‘shale gas’ available from the US and Northern Europe as well as a healthy supply of liquefied natural gas from slightly less reliable sources, such as Russia and the Middle East, but it is there nonetheless. It is cheap (although Germany turning off its nuclear reactors will lead to price pressures) and we understand how to use it.

Switching direction back in favour of a, largely, gas-based system would be quick and far cheaper than trying to stimulate more renewables and build nuclear power stations. Expedience – financial and political – will probably be the winner in the race for energy security and climate change, so don’t be surprised if the ‘New Age of Gas’ could soon be upon us.

It would have to be accompanied by the already planned programme of energy efficiency upgrades of existing homes and offices to reduce consumption and so limit carbon emissions. Although gas is not a zero carbon, or even a low carbon solution – it is less carbon intensive than where we are now and it has the distinct advantage of keeping the lights on. It would be a stop gap solution.

By improving insulation levels via the Green Deal funding and using more high efficiency conventional technologies, such as condensing boilers and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, we can make massive strides towards lower carbon emissions while still preserving our energy security. Renewables like solar thermal and PV can still play a role where they are possible, appropriate and cost-effective; and all of this needs to be linked together by effective and intelligent building controls.

From an HVCA perspective members using their already considerable knowledge of conventional gas-fired building services systems in tandem with better controls and more thermally efficient buildings have a far better chance of reducing the nation’s carbon emissions than anything else currently proposed; and, more importantly, we will help to keep the lights on!

However, it is not totally straightforward. With shale gas, we have to overcome the small problem of extraction, known as ‘fracking’, which uses vast amounts of water and can lead to gas coming out of your kitchen tap. There is also the requirement for carbon capture and we know how difficult and expensive that is proving to be.

And, of course, all this leads us to the inevitable conclusion that energy efficiency measures are still the best investment of all.

David Frise is head of sustainability at the HVCA whose members are committed to delivering high quality, responsible and sustainable building services solutions.


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Chevron tries to shaft The Amazon .. again

Posted May 2nd, 2011 by The Environment Site with No Comments

Have you heard?  It’s despicable.  It’s what gives corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability a bad name.  It’s a travesty.  It’s bloody minded.  It should be condemned.  It MUST be condemned.

I’m talking about Chevron’s decision to drop its lawsuit against Steven Donziger, the lawyer who represented the Amazonian indigenous people in their long running pollution suit against Texaco (now part of Chevron).  You still don’t know what I’m talking about? OK, here’s a big brief synopsis…

Texaco goes into the Amazon. Drills for oil. Makes a huge, ecologically damaging mess.  So far there’s nothing controversial in what I’ve said, but then comes the next bit.  Texaco pays money to the Ecuadorian government to clear up the mess on their behalf and considers its hands washed clean of the issue (1992).  Then Texaco is bought by Chevron (2001).. so the issue becomes Chevron’s.

Sitck your fingers in your ears and go laa laa laa.  Years of twists and turns leave Chevron and the Amazonian population still slugging it out and finally in 2010 an Ecuadorian court determines that Chevron ought to pay $9 billion to clean up the mess.  Case settled? No .. not yet…

Chevron filed papers in a US court alleging a massive racketeering conspiracy against the Amazonian people.  The papers name several people as masterminds of this conspiracy, including Steven Donziger, their attorney, who was supposed to be the conspiracy’s mastermind.

And now Chevron drop their allegation against Donziger.

So we’re left with a conspiracy without a mastermind!  To ordinary person this would be ridiculous.  Like carrying on a government without a Prime Minister or President, or a company without a CEO.  But not to Chevron.  Oh no.  They can allege a massive conspiracy without saying who was creating the conspiracy. Weird, but true.

To cut a long story short, Texaco played games about the pollution they created for a decade and then Chevron played games for another decade after they bought Texaco.  We’re now around 25 years since they issue was first raised.  Yet Chevron take no responsibility for their actions.  Or rather, they say they’ve paid money to the Ecuadorian government and when it’s suggested they didn’t pay enough, they shrug and say “that was the deal”.

This is not responsible behaviour.

What’s more, when you look at Texaco and Chevron’s behaviour in the courts it’s perfectly obvious that they’re trying to avoid responsibility through all possible legal means.  Which bit of that sentence do you want to give emphasis to.. AVOID RESPONSIBILITY or ALL POSSIBLE LEGAL MEANS ?  Ultimately, the company’s strategy is about protecting the board’s collective arse and maximising profits for the shareholders. Stakeholders are nothing. For Chevron, these are still fuzzy coloured people with feathers in their hair ….

While this cloud hangs over Chevron they can never be considered a responsible company, and the more they protest the greater their sin (ahem!) becomes.  Their PR firm should have told them to fold long before now, because all they’re doing is damaging their reputation.

But reputation is another story entirely.

Why business is wrong about Sustainability

Posted April 26th, 2011 by The Environment Site with No Comments

You know, I used to love Laurel and Hardy.  I’m one of that generation who grew up with them regularly on BBC2 in the afternoons, along with other black and white classics.  This, of course, was in the days when there were less than a handful of channels and all broadcast quality instead of commercial pap.

Recently I got into a debate with members of the business community about CSR and sustainability.  It’s a subject which really motivates me and if I have a weakness it’s the need to rake over it time and time again.

However, what got me in this debate was the view which was being expressed about the difference between CSR and sustainability.  It was, I have to say, a little Laurel and Hardy.

The consensus seemed to be that CSR was all about the short term actions a company took while sustainability is all about the long term strategy a company employs.  Other than that the two were indistinguishable.  This is like saying Laurel the tall one, Hardy’s the fat one, but other than that they’re both white men in bowler hats.

While this may be true about Laurel and Hardy, it’s not true of CSR and sustainability.

CSR *is* about the actions a company takes.  However, these actions are made according to how the company believes it can add value to its positive impact and mitigate its negative impact.  What is considered valuable, damaging and responsible will vary from industry to country to culture and it will also vary over the short to medium term.

Sustainability is all about resource use: mineral, natural and human and the rate at which we’re consuming those resources. This does not vary: using something more quickly than its replaced is universaly unsustainable, just like borrowing more money than you’re making is.

To have a viable long term company you have to think about sustainability, yes, but sustainability can be addressed just as immediately as CSR.  For example, our scale of oil and mineral use it utterly unsustainable.  Companies can address that today just as they are addressing issues of social inclusiveness or environmental degredation.

A CSR correspondent of mine recently noted that they were distraught by how few companies and consultants in the area who still don’t get CSR.  “It’s not about giving to random organisations and NGOs,” this person said in paraphrase, “It’s about shaping the corporate strategy around social and environmental goals as well as financial ones.”

Similarly, I’m distraught about how companies and consultants still don’t seem to get sustainability.  It’s not about aligning your strategy to the changes which will happen tomorrow; it’s about ensuring you don’t over consume today, which in turn makes tomorrow viable.  Leave it until tomorrow though, and there simply won’t be one.

So CSR and sustainability both address the same spectrum of issues represented broadly in triple bottom line economics.  However they’re not a double act like Laurel and Hardy: much more like Dudley Moore and Richard Prior.  Comedians, yes, with the same aim of getting people to laugh and examine themselves.  However, there the similarity ends.

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The Conference Junkie: Preaching to the Converted

Posted April 20th, 2011 by The Environment Site with No Comments

At the recently concluded Charities@Work conference, JP Morgan Chase’s VP and National Director for Employee Engagement and Financial Education Michael Carren challenged the attendees to return next year with a colleague.

What he said isn’t atypical for a conference. For organizers, these forums—especially annual ones—mean new business opportunities and a bigger, better event the following year.

And when one of the organizers says this, the reaction is usually one of ambivalence: Sure, of course you want to increase your attendance.

But for once I agree.

As I go from conference to conference this year (Count stands at 11 so far including two that we’ve organized), alternatively presenting, speaking on a panel or simply attending, I’ve realized that, no matter how good the events are, they’re all suffering from the same problem.

That is: We are preaching to the same crowd.

We’re talking about CSR, business ethics, social responsibility, life skills, business skills, leadership skills and so much more…we’re learning from each other’s experiments and sharing our challenges.

But are we extending the dialogue to our colleagues when we return to our desks?

After all, we are returning to a bulk load of work and an endless cycle of deadlines and deliverables. We are not sharing what we learned with our colleagues, and we are certainly not using the key takeaways to crowd-source solutions within our organizations. Even if a small percentage of us is taking the time to spread the wealth, are we doing it effectively?

Are we delivering the message across departments? Across management hierarchies? Are we making it make sense?

Because if we were, the attendance demographics would change every year: Networking breaks would have newer faces, fresher perspectives, evolving challenges. Every lunch/dinner break would mean meeting people with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

But that isn’t happening.

I know. Most of us don’t have the time.

“We’re Not Sitting At the Same Table”

At the Business Civic Leadership Center’s (BCLC) annual conference earlier this week, I happened to share a table at lunch with Microsoft’s Senior Director of Global Community Affairs Akhtar Badshah and Ann Cramer who is the director of IBM’s corporate community relations. They shared similar sentiments: Why this continued disconnect? Why do the marketing, legal, compliance, community relations, and HR teams remain so misaligned on what CSR means for their roles, and their impact?

Referring to my recent workshop with the students at the University of Minnesota on CSR and job hunting, I asked Cramer what could help reduce this disconnect. Her answer resonated: We’re not talking enough, we’re not educating ourselves enough, we’re not sitting at the same table, she said.

Never Too Late for a New Year’s Resolution

So why not share some of the wealth and use next year’s budget to send someone else from your company to some of these conferences, especially the ones that have become permanent dots on your annual calendar?

Even if just a handful of new attendees get the message and are able to contextualize it to their daily job, that’s a win in my book—and I’d wager in your company’s long term growth as well.

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On the proper way to limit overpopulation 2

Posted April 19th, 2011 by The Environment Site with No Comments

In a previous article of mine, I discussed how to limit overpopulation in the proper way if we speak about evolutionary time. My conclusion was something like the following: we should limit the number of the births, and we should do this by not allowing some people to reproduce – at least until they get richer – while encouraging others – the more useful for the community – to have as many children as they can. I based this position on the want of peace, and on the supposition that in these times biological evolution favors those who want children, and in a one-child-policy state those would multiply who beget triplets, which has to be avoided. But let’s refresh our thinking with new ideas, let everyone think on this important issue, and I give fuel to the thinking process by this new article.

I already got severe feedback and criticism for my previous article, and I think they liked the overpopulation topic but they didn’t like my actual solution. Someone thought it may be unjust to favor the rich or to determine the reproduction rights by human judgement, and someone thought my solution may be impossible to be realized in practice, at least in these times. I consider these criticism right, but I have to say that my solution would be better than nothing, and faith in the cause might make wonders. At the same time, I admit that a more realistic alternative should be given than my suggestion, moreover I criticize my previous suggestion further.

At first, we should examine the suppositions on which I based my suggestion. The first such is that biological evolution favours triplets. This isn’t necessarily true if biological mutations are not random and the world is governed by a good spirit. The works of such a spirit could drive evolution in an entirely different way than darwinian evolution predicts. Moreover, in our times even humans could intervene by technology to prevent the multiplication of triplet-begetters. (By the way, I don’t think that it would be beautiful.)

My second supposition was that begetting triplets and twins should not be common. Here comes the question: why? Is it not good to have brothers or sisters? The only drawback of begetting triplets or twins is that it is in conflict with the one-child-policy. But in these times the one-child-policy can be applied, and the triplet-begetters are not a huge obstacle to it. So my new suggestion is that in these times we should apply the one-child-policy, and allow begetting triplets and twins, but if the triplet-begetters proliferate in the uncertain future, the people should choose my original solution.

So my new conclusion is that we should apply the one-child-policy in these times in the countries which are overpopulated, but I have not yet discussed what is the proper way to apply that. My main argument is that the one-child-policy should be made more liberal, allowing the fortunate ones to have as many children as they can. This way everyone could hope that one day he or she will be allowed to have more children. Thus everyone should be allowed to have one child or to give one multiple birth, but everything beyond that should be governed by ever changing state laws, depending on the current population, which should make it possible for the very rich, and maybe for the generally rich to have as many children as they can, provided that they support the state with their money. This would be very similar to the one-child-policy laws already living in China.

Written by Arpad Fekete, this article is in the public domain just like the article it refers to.

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Externalities: costs passed on to the outside

Posted April 14th, 2011 by The Environment Site with No Comments

Externalities is a term that economist use to reference costs and benefits which are not directly carried by the company involved. They are usually passed on to the consumer, government or the environment. As with many things, they can be good or bad. The trouble is that sometimes you cannot tell until later.

You can find examples of passed on externalities in many areas. The chemical industry, the coal industry, the automotive industry, the alcohol industry and just about any business which seeks profit above all. They operate in a manner which mandates finding ways to shed costs and put them on the shoulders of those outside their system. The entire fossil fuel machine would not survive if they did not follow this principle.

There are two kinds of externalities. Economist call them positive/negative externalities or costs. Positive benefits are those that improve the lives outside the system. A prime example of a positive externality is the school system. The general goal is the creation of a smarter worker, but educating the populace is the hidden benefit or externality. The examples of negative benefits are so numerous as to be unlistable. The corporations will quickly lay claim to the positive, but will completely deny the negative.

The biggest guilty party is the fossil fuel industry. They completely avoid taking any responsibility for the current global situation and will go any extreme to deny their part. To see a perfect example look into mountaintop removal for mining coal. Across the country big coal companies are simply blowing the tops of the mountains off to get the coal underneath. They fill the valleys with waste products from the process which leaches into streams and water tables. This leads to increased health problems for those living in the area which someone else has to pay for. This is just one of multitude of costs that are passed to other people so companies can claim that coal is cheap.

If you want a bigger picture just go to any search engine and type in pollution, fossil fuels and health problems together. The external costs of oil production, coal production, combustion engine and many other things we take for granted are dumped into someone else’s lap.

Further References:
Wikipedia: Externalities
Environmental Externalities and Air Pollution
Harvard study: Coal costs US public up to $500 billion annually

Dee Neely is an avid technologist, writer and green activist. She is the Knoxville Green Activism Examiner for You can follow her on Twitter as cayceedeeneely.

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Scarcity: The Big Lie

Posted March 25th, 2011 by The Environment Site with No Comments

The entire economic system has its basis in scarcity, which is the idea that there simply are not enough of  things to go around.  Scarcity is defined by Investopedia as “The basic economic problem that arises because people have unlimited wants but resources are limited. Because of scarcity, various economic decisions must be made to allocate resources efficiently” There was a time when this was true but the scarcity which we see today is mostly an artificial construct. The problem is that with the increased ability of humanity to produce items through technology, the only way to effectively maintain scarcity is through manipulation.
We are told constantly that there isn’t enough energy to go around, but what this really means is that the companies which control the energy don’t want to lose control. While there are multiple means to provide energy the  arguments are all centered on cost; we are told that the cost of switching to renewable and accessible energy is simply too high. Of course, this is not true. There was a recent plan to remake the roads of America into solar power collectors. The critics answered that the thirty-five trillion dollars it would cost was prohibitive. How much do the transportation departments around the nation spend to maintain the roads we have? Forty trillion dollars every year.
The supply of crude oil is most definitely an example of manipulated scarcity. What does OPEC do when the price of oil goes too low? They cut back production and cause an artificial scarcity so they can keep their profit margins up. If you can keep the production up and you can cut it back to increase profits that is a direct manipulation of the market. This artificial method affects multiple other areas of supposed scarcity such as food.
The availability of food is manipulated all the time. In the United States we even pay farmers to maintain a scarcity of certain foodstuffs to keep from glutting the market and driving the price down.  In addition, the manipulation of fossil fuels leaves its mark on prices, for as the price of oil and energy is raised, the price of production and distribution goes up.  The price and availability of fossil fuels are also changing the availability of food in another way: in an attempt to find something to replace oil countries have turned to Ethanol. The main source of Ethanol is corn and as more corn goes towards replacing oil, the price and availability of many foods are affected.
However, none of this is really necessary because we have experienced an explosion of science and technology in the last century. Our machines are more efficient and we have the means to create limitless amounts of energy. We simply don’t. We don’t because the profit mongers and power brokers don’t want us to. It is up to us to force them to change their ways.

Further References:
Investopedia: Scarcity
Solar Roadways: A fantastic but, futile idea
OPEC Will Increase Oil Production
Wikipedia: OPEC : Economics
Wikipedia: Agricultural Subsidies
Wikipedia: Corn Ethanol

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Dee Neely is a freelance writer, avid technologist and a member of The Zeitgeist Movement.

Technology. Good or Bad?

Posted March 24th, 2011 by The Environment Site with No Comments

It is a common attitude in the environmental movement that technology is something to be avoided. I have read posts and articles by multiple people that advocate the throwing away of technology, but the truth remains that we are tool making creatures. We have close animal relatives who use tools to this day and they still manage to live in harmony with nature while using appropriate technology. Primates use sticks and rocks, birds use sticks and otters use rocks. When we observe this in nature we can conclude that using tools and technology is neither good nor bad. It is the use to which they are put along, with the way they are implemented, that makes their impact good or bad. However some people think we should just to get rid of it all.

Unless we want to return to the trees it is impossible to remove all technology. The fire we use for heat, the shoes we wear on our feet, and the clothes that cover our bodies are all examples of technology. The use of tools is a part of our existence as human beings. They have been a piece of our lives ever since our ancestors started their first intentional fire. Technology flows through our history like the golden threads of a beautiful tapestry. We have let the tapestry get dirty and now it needs cleaning up.

The dirt on our tapestry is the result of technologies use by humans. When we were a young species we didn’t know how to clean up the messes we were leaving behind. We didn’t understand that pouring stuff in the water would kill us later. We didn’t understand that planting the same crop in the same place each year affected the quality. We certainly didn’t know that burning wood was putting pollution into the air. However we have learned better. But, in the course of learning, we let people take control who didn’t care. They used the methods and products for their own selfish needs and didn’t care about the effect on other people.

It is this lack of caring that lies at the core of our environmental problems. So many of our problems from war to racism to abuse to crime find fertile ground here. It is fed by the economic system which encourages the amassing of personal profit at the expense of others. In order to prevent further environmental degradation we need to change this. Only when we have truly modified our mentality and approach to life can lasting changes be made. Any changes we make in the meantime will certainly suffer from that short-sighted approach to life. Technology will always be a part of us but we have to approach it in a rational and compassionate way.

This post has been written by Dee Neely, a member of our discussion forum.

Further References:

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How to best use money in order to support green areas?

Posted March 22nd, 2011 by The Environment Site with No Comments

I believe that CO2 levels have increased in the atmosphere since the 19th century, and I believe that one of the noblest ways to counterweight mankind’s CO2 emissions is to support green areas: nature reserves, national parks, botanical gardens, urban parks and single trees. These may help the solution of other environmental problems as well, like land degradation. That’s why I have begun to think on how to make green areas more prevalent. No doubt that in our times, this needs money, and the money should come from the taxpayers as well as those altruistic people who voluntarily support environmentalism.

At the national level, a state can do at least two things from the taxpayers’ money. The first is to reclaim the ownership of the land by buying it from individuals. The second is to lease the land: pay its owners if they use the land as green area. We can see that the first solution would be nicer in the long run, because that way the state would have to pay less annually, as the market value of leasing land might be higher than the upkeep, and it may even go up in the future. By the way, the state could support the green areas of individuals with a very small amount of money, or at least it should not demand taxes for those lands. It is probable though that a state will not have enough money for financing green areas.

The help of altruistic people may save the situation. Their money should be used at least as fair as the money of the taxpayers. The land of Nature should be bought for Nature for ever instead of leasing from individuals or states again and again. It should be 100% guaranteed that the land which has been bought for Nature remains the property of the environmentalist causes and every people. For example, it could be given to an organization like the UNEP, just with 100% sure and just management of rights. That way, more people would feel like giving money for saving the environment, and in time, the areas of Nature would be larger and larger again.

At the international level, it would be the best if every country would have green areas in the same high proportion. Otherwise all the countries should pay a fund annually which would support green areas in countries which have more green areas, easing the sacrifices of greener countries this way. But then it would not be the direct monetary interest of the payer countries to preserve Nature in the countries with green areas, because if the natural reserves were destroyed, they wouldn’t have to pay. An international law which governs the minimal size of green areas in a country would be better.

There is a Hungarian proverb which is in connection with this problem, in English it says “The common horse has scars on his back”. It may even happen in the local scale, because it is not the interest of the local, unemployed people to preserve the nature reserves near them. That’s why I suggest letting local people benefit from the blessings of the green area, independently of their proprietary rights. There is another Hungarian proverb which is in connection with this, in English it says “The land is of those who maintain it”.
Written by Arpad Fekete, a member of This article is in the public domain.

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