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Green Business Could Boost Every Bottom Line

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Author: the Inkslinger

Green Technology and RecessionThese days, you don't have to look too hard to see an American economy that is in trouble. From TV talking heads debating whether or not the recession has arrived to “For Sale” signs sprouting like spring grass, it's clear things are sputtering.

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Coal Gets Burned

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Author: the Inkslinger

In Tuesday’s post about Staples terminating a relationship with an environmentally suspect paper supplier, Jeffrey noted that “the potential cost (to business) of failing to be responsible or transparent… can be high indeed.”

Apparently some of the biggest financial firms agree. A couple of days ago, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley announced that they’ve developed a new set of standards by which investors can assess the regulatory and financial risks of coal-related projects. The firms hope that these so-called Carbon Principles will become a framework that the entire investment community can use to encourage “responsible” coal development, which is probably one of the larger oxymorons you’ll encounter today. As GreenBiz notes, the new standards don’t forbid investment in coal-burning schemes, but they do place them under additional scrutiny. They’re also voluntary, which means any bank is quite free to ignore them as Bank of America, perhaps the largest financer of coal plants, seems so to be doing judging by its conspicuous absence from the proceedings so far.

So while this is not exactly another nail in coal’s coffin, it’s certainly another hammer blow or two on those nails already there. It sends the clearest message yet to the investment community that there’s a growing risk in projects that generate carbon dioxide and that, as Jeffrey says, the potential costs of failing to be responsible can be high. Clearly the landscape is changing and clearly climate crisis concerns are (finally) penetrating the halls of financial power.

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Thy Neighbors Cash

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In the August 5, 2007 New York Times Book review of Robert H. Frank’s new book Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class, reviewer Daniel Gross notes:

Knowing that Steve Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group made almost $400 million last year, or that he spent $3 million last February on his 60th-birthday party, doesn’t simply make the typical American green with envy, and hence unhappy. Rather, Frank argues, the problem is that extreme consumption — at which Schwarzman excels — helps shape norms for the whole society, not just his fellow plutocrats.

This theme, which is also the focus of much of Deep Economy by Bill McKibben, is wrapped in a sobering view of just how concentrated wealth is becoming. What sounds fascinating about Gross’ book is how this effects our dreams and aspirations, and causes us to plummet ever faster toward an unsustainable future. Gross’s review continues:

In an economy where the wealthy set the norms for consumption and people at every rung strain to maintain the consumption of those just above them, that spells trouble. In today’s arms race, the top 1 percent are armed to the teeth and everybody else is scavenging for ammunition. Between 1980 and 2001, Frank notes, the median size of new homes in the United States rose from 1,600 to 2,100 square feet, “despite the fact that the median family’s real income had changed little in the intervening years.” The end result? Frank methodically presents data showing that the typical American now works more, saves less, commutes longer and borrows more to maintain what he or she views as an appropriate standard of living.

Because the gains have been so lopsided — the richest 1 percent have seen their share of national income rise from 8.2 percent in 1980 to 17.4 percent in 2005.

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The Real Wealth of Nations – A Great Book!

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Great books are few and far between, but go out and get this one. A review from the Baltimore Chronicle gives a better overview than I can!

Do you ever open your eyes in the morning and think, Oh, wow, why bother...? If so, you’ll be glad to hear that macrohistorian and cultural transformation theorist Riane Eisler has just delivered another massive and exhilarating dose of hope for the sane and weary, with the publication of her latest book, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics.

In The Chalice and the BladeThe Chalice and the Blade, her 1987 introduction to “partnership” as the leitmotif of sane social engineering, Eisler persuasively argued that nonviolent, egalitarian, culturally advanced and prosperous societies have existed in the past and could certainly be made (by us) to exist again.

Now comes The Real Wealth of Nations, tackling the ominous gaps in our mental map of what economic theory is all about. An economy is more than the market, the government, and the military, says Eisler, eventually citing chapter and verse from a long list of other scholars to create a very persuasive case. A complete picture of a national and global economy must include the whole range of vital caring and caregiving activities—mostly undervalued, undercounted, and either severely underpaid or totally unpaid; and mostly performed (surprise!) by women—that take place in the community and in the home.

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