|Green is definitely in — and not just in places where you would expect it. Consider that business schools are offering eco-MBAs for studying environmentally sustainable business practices. Or that the fashion industry now has eco-friendly lines that feature, among other things, clothing made from organic cotton. (Granted, green lines account for less than 1 percent of all sales, but you have to start somewhere.) Even sports stadiums are competing to see which is the greenest.
I believe that the new Washington Nationals ballpark currently has that honor, but there are challengers waiting to grab the title away.
What happened to make going green the thing to do? I’d love to think that we all finally got religion and decided to join Al Gore in his fight to save the planet from global warming (wecansolveitnow.org). Or maybe we finally started paying attention to the plight of endangered polar bears.
But I think a more likely reason for the conversion to green is that oil topped $100 a barrel. That’s when everyone knew that the days of business-as-usual in every industry and sphere of life had vanished, even for those who could afford to pay $4 a gallon for gasoline.
Why? Because the planet can’t sustain the lifestyle we’ve built that runs on oil and coal. As more and more countries climb out of poverty (think India and China), it’s only natural that their citizens want to begin sharing in the good life. And nothing says they’ve “made it” more than owning a car. Some experts expect ownership of private cars to increase by 25 percent annually in China alone over the next five years. And it’s not just in Beijing or Delhi where this is happening. The car culture has spread around the globe. One of the worst traffic jams I ever sat in was in Dakar, the capital of Senegal in West Africa. And with all those cars come more polluting emissions.
The car industry is not alone. Groceries, politics, entertainment, travel, the sustainability of our daily jobs — almost everything you can think of is affected by the cost (and availability) of energy. And so we face a dilemma: How can we have sufficient energy to fuel the planet’s growing needs and at the same time preserve the environment and enhance our lives? It’s a huge challenge — one we’re becoming more aware of with each passing day.
Not that every aspect of this — or any other problem — can be solved all at once. Some solutions will take years. As we were planning for this, our second annual “green” issue, we decided to concentrate on some of the areas where improvements are being made now — like eco-friendly cars, sustainable food, even greener houses. We asked the writers to bring the topics home by relating how the latest products and technologies can help us conserve energy and improve our lives today.
No, using a different lightbulb or adding new weather stripping around your windows — or even recycling this magazine — is not going to stop the glaciers from melting in Greenland. But people’s changes in awareness are what lead to changes in policy and in behavior. It’s safe to say we’ve finally started the journey, and it’s critical that we stay focused on the path.