What greens have been saying all along is true
Companies discover going green pays off
You have a harder time avoiding mainstream media than finding it; hence we focus on the news you might miss. But this proof of the world working right for everyone needs widespread dissemination. Hence we run this 2008 USA Today article of May 21 -- and append how to adopt apt-tech more rapidly.
By Edward IwataSan Francisco. A growing wave of companies in all sectors -- technology, financial services, energy, retail, manufacturing -- are embracing environmentally safe practices and saving hundreds of millions of dollars, according to corporate leaders and an environmental group's report Tuesday.
SunPower (STI), Sierra Nevada Brewing, Patagonia, Ikea, Nike (NKE), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), UPS (UPS), Yahoo (YHOO) and others are using green practices in their work sites, in product development and packaging, in energy-saving data centers and other technology, according to a report by the non-profit Environmental Defense Fund.
The report was released here at a news conference featuring green-friendly CEOs and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
David Yarnold, the fund's executive director, says green business practices "can create competitive advantage" and "strengthen the bottom line."
Technology giant Sun Microsystems (JAVA), for one, aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2012 through a range of practices, from using cooler, energy-saving technology in its computer chips to allowing thousands of its 18,000 employees to work at home.
Permitting employees to telecommute has saved hundreds of millions of dollars in the past six years in real estate and fuel costs. Sun also hauled in $1 billion in revenue last year on its Niagara 1 server computer system, which uses power-saving chips.
Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz calls the technology "a bus" that gets the job done efficiently and economically, rather than a flashy, gas-guzzling Ferrari.
Fireman's Fund Insurance offers its commercial customers insurance policies promising their property, if destroyed by fire or disaster, will be rebuilt using green materials, heating and lighting.
The policies, which are growing quickly in popularity among Fireman's clients, will be available to homeowners in June, according to Chairman Charles Kavitsky.
One clear sign that the product is making money: Competitors are imitating it, Kavitsky says.
Schwarzenegger said green companies and environmentally friendly laws in California -- such as its Million Solar Roofs Plan, which provides an energy-bill credit for homeowners and building owners to install solar systems -- will lead by example.
"Are we going to wipe out global warming? Of course not," Schwarzenegger said. "But we're inspiring … the rest of the world to do the same thing."
JJS: All along, the problem has not been technology -- most of the ideas cited above have been around for decades if not longer. No, the stumbling block has been psychology, the false belief that wealth and Earth must conflict. That pessimistic outlook is typical of peasants, of people lower in their social hierarchy. Too many believe they don’t deserve what’s right or good. However, in more egalitarian societies, you find more optimism; people take harmony for granted.
So, how do we level the playing field in society? We share society’s surplus. We recover and share publicly generated value, like all the money we spend on the nature we use. Also, we don’t treat people like peons; we quit taxing their property, their earnings, their businesses and sales -- we’d no longer have to as long as we use taxes, fees, dues, and leases to redirect that natural ‘rent” into the public treasury. Then, freed from the yoke of the state, people can see themselves as more than just taxpayers but as free and responsible members of society able to contribute goods and services of real value. Those are the kind of people willing to try new ideas and to do what’s right for everyone.
Even without changing people’s worldview, the shift of taxes off the values we make, onto the values we create, would help the cause of apt-tech. Paying taxes is harder for some start-up trying to sell new ideas than for an entrenched business. And it’s the outmoded, entrenched businesses who get most of the subsidies. For the sake of the planet, we need to shift subsidies, too, from special interests to everyone -- which is where the sharing of rents comes in.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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