The Recession is Still a Good Time for being Green

Without a doubt the global economy is still slowly destroying itself and people are looking to change that. One great way to avoid the same mistakes that drove us into this recession is to become green with your green. Indeed, many people in Canada are still focussed on greening their lifestyles.

Let’s take this economy from one based on exploitation of finite resources to an economy that is based on renewable resources.

“We are not necessarily tree-huggers but we try to make informed decisions regarding the environment,” Mr. Carli said of his family. They use cloth shopping bags, walk to the grocery store and try to buy local produce. Ultimately, however, their household buying decisions are decided by price.

At a time when the economic recession is straining many household budgets, families such as the Carlis are looking for ways to marry their need to be frugal with their desire to be green. Turns out, a reduction in income does not automatically mean a drop in eco-consciousness as people continue to stop and consider the true cost – environmental and monetary – of their purchases. Unlike the 1980s, when the economic downturn stopped the environmental movement in its tracks, concern over the fate of our planet is still going strong, says Rick Smith, executive director of advocacy group Environmental Defence. “The environmental movement has proven to be recession-proof.”

Ela Beres, a Toronto-based consultant with The Boston Consulting Group, interviewed several Canadian families on the impact green choices were having on their everyday spending. People are definitely interested in helping the environment if it costs the same or less, she says. “That’s a no-brainer. But when it comes to saying I want to spend more money to protect the environment, that is more iffy.”

Global Recession Saving Globe

The great thing about this global recession that we’re in is that the planet has a bit of time to breath and recover from the destructive force of modern hyper-capitalism. I honestly hope that as we start to recover from this recession we’ll have realized that we need to work with the ebbs and flow of ecosystems and not just exploit what finite resources the ecosystems create.

An interesting theme has begun to emerge in Copenhagen: that the financial crisis might end up saving the world. Sure, it’s painful now, this line of thinking goes, but it gives us a chance to build a low-carbon global economy that we might not have had otherwise. And in the meantime, greenhouse-gas emissions could fall sharply as a result of depressed economic activity — factories closing, less driving, less flying, and so on.
Two influential English economists argued as much today at the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change. In a morning plenary talk, Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics and Political Science explained the reasons why he’s more optimistic about the likelihood of a new, effective global climate agreement today than he was two years ago: the rapid advancement of low-carbon technology, the deepening of public awareness, the Obama administration’s commitment to cutting greenhouse-gas emissions to 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050 — and the fact that the recession provides an opening for completely remaking the global energy economy. “It should be easier because we have an economic crisis,” he said. Labor is cheap, after all. That will make it cheaper to hire the workers to, for instance, rebuild the electrical grid in both the U.S. and Europe. Besides, he argued, the financial crisis offers a clear lesson. With this financial catastrophe fresh in our minds, we should realize more than ever that if we wait to address a looming crisis, it will bite us that much harder in the end.

Will Ethical Capitalism Arise from the Recession?

It’s always nice to see someone write what I’m thinking but do it much better than I ever can. Here’s a short piece exploring the failings of the neo-liberal economic order and how we can build a better, kinder, greener, and more efficient form of capitalism.

For me, this recession has been defined by frustrating paradoxes. Easy money, overcapacity, and reckless consumption are what got us into this mess, yet governments must react by lowering interest rates and pushing through enormous fiscal stimulus packages with the hope that the housing, retail, and investment markets won’t fall much more. Similarly, long-term sensible investments in clean energy and social welfare are hindered by falling oil prices, a lack of funding, and fresh anxiety about corporate bottom lines.
From these developments, one could conclude that the global economic system is inherently flawed, that it is unethical and doomed to destroy itself. In fact, what is critically needed is moderation, a middle ground between total freedom and principled action. The incoming Obama Administration calls it “smart policies.” The alternative is protectionism, a rolling back of the open global economy, and political if not armed conflict.

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