From the negative side, the green hype frustrates many citizens. They don't know what to believe as public information and outreach use manipulated scientific data and half truths to tell only part of the story. Furthermore, accounts of green-washing furthers the frustration, leading individuals and groups to strengthen their opposition to green economy efforts. They don't want their tax dollars spent on initiatives in which don't have complete confidence.
The reality of the green economy cannot be avoided. Clean tech and sustainable industries have reached the tipping point, and that means that clean tech is here to stay. Whether you're an environmentalist on the forefront of green innovation or a climate change skeptic, many gains can be realized in the business world from the rise of the green economy:
- It's good for long-term growth. The green economy's focus on efficiency and sustainability employs practices of accountability and consciousness that all businesses can use as we reshape our economy. Shady business practices of the past show themselves quickly to the transparent environment fueled by the information age, and inefficiencies will cripple any poorly-run business. The conservation of resources and a focus on sustainability means that businesses have the tools and resources needed to make long-term plans for growth and viability. The focus on short term gains is no longer enough to build confidence in the success and brand promises of an organization.
- It's good for jobs and economic development. When regions focus on sustainability, its inhabitants receive clean air, fresh drinking water, renewable energy sources, reliable transportation, and overall prosperity. The rise in clean technologies, innovations, and practices brings new opportunities as the economy shifts from industrial age to information age, resulting in replacement of lost jobs due to dramatic changes in flailing or failing industry sectors. Our workplaces require healthy, well-educated citizens to meet the demand of changing jobs. Else, we will have to rely on imported and outsourced workforces to supply our workforce need.
- It's good for the environment. Yes, the environment is still important in all this. Former President Teddy Roosevelt first established Pelican Island in Florida as a national wildlife refuge, and the United States still leads the world in a great wealth of environmental diversity and beauty that can be found in few other places of the world (except potentially Russia). By protecting these natural resources, we have a viable asset for future generations to leverage and enjoy, unspoiled and minimally impacted through conservation and preservation that results from sustainable governance in all the ways we live, work, and play.
- It's good for health. With cancer and obesity rates out of control and on the rise, the American people can use as much help as it can get to improve health. I have four friends under the age of 40 going through chemo right now. I'm not going to fight against better-quality food, air, and water to keep our citizens healthy. Good health keeps people productive and happy. With healthy citizens, the green economy focuses our resources on supporting health and well-being instead of reactive social programs and overburdened, under-performing health care systems. We need a populace that contributes to, not drains, our national prosperity.
Going green is good for our businesses, our communities, and our environment. With businesses focused on long-term growth, economic development, clean environments, and healthy citizens, we can expect increased opportunities and more profitable businesses. The shift to a green economy affords real opportunities for new and existing businesses and individuals. More opportunities mean increased employment, lower violence rates, healthier communities, and a vibrant tax base. Whether you're pro-green or a green-skeptic, the green economy is here, and it's now up to smart leaders and business owners to dig through the hype to find the best opportunities to survive and thrive.