Environmental issues are becoming more business oriented, as business and governments learn that clean environmental policies have positive economic implications. One excellent example is that of Whole Foods Market Inc., a giant food chain in the USA. It announced that it will rely on wind energy for all of its electricity needs, making it the largest corporate user of renewable energy in the United States. The Austin Texas-based company said it is purchasing 458,000 megawatt-hours of wind energy credits a year - enough to power 44,000 homes annually - from Renewable Choice Energy of Boulder, Colo.
The decision follows the publicly traded company's mission of environmental stewardship without losing sight of the bottom line, Whole Foods regional president Michael Besancon said. "It's a sales driver rather than a cost," he said. "All of those things we do related to our core values: help drive sales, help convince a customer to drive past three or four other supermarkets on the way to Whole Foods." The company began rolling out wind energy for all 173 stores in the United States and Canada last month. Prior to that, 20 percent of its electricity had been from renewable sources. As of Oct. 1, 2005, Whole Foods was the eighth- largest user of renewable energy among U.S. corporations and governmental agencies. Based on those figures, Tuesday's announcement would put Whole Foods ahead of the U.S. Air Force (312,416 megawatt-hours) and corporate leader Johnson & Johnson (241,398 megawatt-hours), in using environmentally sensitive energy, according to the EPA. This trend is also being repeated by governments.
In Mongolia, the government realized that it’s natural forest resource of trees that produce Pinion nuts were a valuable resource, and passed regulations to limit the exploitation and destruction of these forests by foreign entities, particularly China. China has been active in trying to “monopolize” the crop of Pinion nuts, as well as being an avid consumer of forests outside of China. For example, some say that 30% of the forests in the region of Tibet have been cut down by Chinese, and shipped to the growing metropolitan areas of China.
Mongolia has also shown interest in preserving the purity of its rivers, and has even addressed air pollution issues, realizing that the costs saved in lives and medical expenses are an economic and human issue that must be considered. Nations around the world are trying to take steps to save their environmental treasures, and corporations are starting to follow government leadership.
In Kathmandu, Nepal, nearly every hotel, now has solar panels, to provide hot water. Heating water is one of he highest energy costs of the hotel business, so instead of fighting the environmental activists, the hotel industry adopted solar energy, and have increased profits and lowered expenses substantially.
In West Texas, where the most irritating aspect of the region is constant high winds, giant windmill farms have been built, using the Texas wind to produce electricity for thousands of homes.
In Ecuador, mining operators and oil drillers are starting to adopt more stringent environmental policies. I have personally visited lakes, forests, and areas set aside for natural preservation.
In Cambodia, both the government, and logging companies have finally realized the value of saving the forests. There I have seen areas that once were almost cleared by the ravages of war, and later commerce, begin to recover with careful management policies.
In Alaska, State officials and businesses alike have witnessed the impacts of global warming, as the great glaziers have melted. I have stood at the base of glaziers and wondered at the massive shrinkage of these natural wonders.
In Venice, Italy, higher water levels have caused the city to take drastic steps to try to save the city, but they also realize in a first hand way the problems caused by increasing ocean levels caused by global warming. When tourists, like me, have to walk on platforms in the central squares of Venice, we see in a personal and indisputable way, how the environment is changing.
Mongolia is a nation, that by it's very culture and history has been sensitive to the environment. As the herdsmen move their camels, yaks, horses, sheep and cattle across the steppes, Mongolian herdsmen instinctively have realized that they must not "overgraze" the natural grasses, and move on when the time is right, to allow the natural growth to recover and flourish. While in the USA we did not learn that until after great sections of our west were devastated by overgrazing, Mongolia has practiced a form of preservation of its natural grasslands for over, 11 centuries, since recommendations by the Genghis Khan.
The Amazon of South America is also fighting a battle to survive. Huge areas of forests have been destroyed by annual "clear burning". But in recent years, both business and government have taken steps to preserve forests there.
In Africa, once great herds of elephant have dwindled, and both the government and major "Safari" operations have taken steps to save endangered species.
In Canada, the government has encouraged major oil companies to be environmentally sensitive when they drill for oil and mine for minerals. Companies have set more realistic and effective environmental protection policies, and in some cases take the lead in protecting against spills and accidents. Why? Because it is profitable to do so!
Toyota of Japan, has taken the lead in "hybrid" autos, each vehicle saves over a ton of pollutants annually. They are finding that there are long waiting lists of eager buyers for these cars, even though they are slightly more expensive. Why is Toyota doing this? Because it is profitable and because the people want to participate in saving the air that we and our children breathe. Thus while auto giants such as GM are losing money making over sized gas guzzlers and polluters, Toyota is seizing the market and improving profits, by being sensitive to the environment.
New Delhi, India made a huge move 3 years ago, when the city demanded that all motorized rick shaw taxi drivers convert to clean propane fuels. The air quality of New Delhi has improved substantially, and it is an example for the world. And that is the crux of the argument.
Clean environmental policy can be profitable to business, and more economic to governments. The argument was perhaps first made in broad public exposure by book when by Senator Al Gore, who wrote over 15 years ago, that good environmental policy was also good economics. The world is beginning to see that it is true. This may be the most encouraging trend emerging around the world. At one time "greed" was opposed to clean environment. Now "greed" is learning that clean environment is a friend.