THERE is a widespread view, particularly among environmentalists and liberals, that big businesses are environmentally destructive, greedy, evil and driven by short-term profits. I know — because I used to share that view.
But today I have more nuanced feelings. Over the years I’ve joined the boards of two environmental groups, the World Wildlife Fund and Conservation International, serving alongside many business executives.
As part of my board work, I have been asked to assess the environments in oil fields, and have had frank discussions with oil company employees at all levels. I’ve also worked with executives of mining, retail, logging and financial services companies. I’ve discovered that while some businesses are indeed as destructive as many suspect, others are among the world’s strongest positive forces for environmental sustainability.
The embrace of environmental concerns by chief executives has accelerated recently for several reasons. Lower consumption of environmental resources saves money in the short run. Maintaining sustainable resource levels and not polluting saves money in the long run. And a clean image — one attained by, say, avoiding oil spills and other environmental disasters — reduces criticism from employees, consumers and government.
Much more on Jared Diamond here.