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Home > Blog > NOT YOUR FATHER'S ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT
Out of Our Minds
Thursday, April 22, 2004 12:40 PM
NOT YOUR FATHER'S ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT
Anita Sharpe on Making a Difference

It's Earth Day and, so far, it doesn't look much like the heyday of Greenpeace.

One vignette: Jean-Michel Cousteau, who is carrying on his dad's work to save the oceans, spoke today at The Carter Center in Atlanta. While Cousteau was largely preaching to the choir, we could be forgiven for thinking we had stumbled into a Fortune 500 shareholders meeting. The mostly middle-aged audience was neatly attired in suits and ties or hose and heels. In fact, much of the audience seemed to work at big companies or law firms.

Which doesn't mean it wasn't a passionate crowd. Applause was long and loud. I even saw tears on one face as Cousteau showed videos of littered beaches and dead animals, including bird carcasses whose stomach cavities were filled with plastic and metal.

Still, the make-up of the audience seemed illustrative of Cousteau's closing comment that 'the old days of fighting between the industrialists and the angry environmentalists are over. We're working together; we're taking care of the house.'

Not everyone is so sure about that. As one Fortune 500 executive turned social entrepreneur quiety remarked, 'We still need the activists. Nothing really changes without them.'




3 comments

Elicia - 5/6/2004 10:24:56 AM
Business needs to recognize that profit can follow good environmental practices. It's an education process, and yes, change is slow. However, more companies are establishing environmental departments, our universities are teaching sustainable engineering practices, etc. We must hold on to the mantra that one person CAN make a difference. You need to be that person. If you're a CEO, be an industry leader. Stakeholders (employees, shareholders, and environmentalists) will eventually get on board.
lee wilder - 4/24/2004 10:46:06 AM
do we REALLY think that the industrialists and environmentalists are working together?? Kyoto, Arctic drilling, clean air act?? I think many companies have lovely flower beds in front of their headquarters but, given a choice between the environment and the profit margin, will follow the money.
Joan - 4/23/2004 2:07:18 PM
The social entrepreneur is right. We do need activists. As agitators and irritants gain voice (and power), there is more incentive for 'cooler heads' to sit down, discuss alternatives, make progress. While the activists may find this progress painfully slow, the alternative is no progress. Dr. King may have accomplished little had it not been for Malcolm X, for example.

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