“But, Senor Uncle, who has involved your grace in those disputes? Wouldn’t it be better to stay peacefully in your house and not wander around the world searching for bread made from something better than wheat, never stopping to think that many people go looking for wool and come back shorn?”
“Oh, my dear niece,” replied Don Quixote, “how little you understand! Before I am shorn I shall have plucked and removed the beard of any man who imagines he can touch even a single hair of mine.”
–First Part, Chapter VII
If only we all had the steely (and often nutty) resolve of Don Quixote!
Sometimes the environmental movement suffers from information overload: Too much bad news! (Why even try at this point?)
I just read an article called “Green Is Good” by D.T. Max in the May 12th issue of The New Yorker. It zeros in on Mark Tercek, who is the head of the Nature Conservancy. (“The Nature Conservancy, which is responsible for protecting a hundred and nineteen million acres in thirty-five countries, is the biggest environmental nongovernmental organization in the world.”) So what is interesting about Tercek? He’s a former partner at Goldman Sachs who wants to seduce the business world into going green.
“The assumption is that if you want companies to care about nature you must put a price tag on it,” Max writes. “Otherwise, as one Nature Conservancy economist told me, ‘it implicitly gets a value of zero.'”
Tercek was hired to find “innovative possibilities for aligning economic forces with conservation.” But is it possible to have a win-win situation for both the environment and big business?
“…there’s something dubious about trusting the main forces behind ecological ruin to reverse it,” Max writes.
“Business may be more efficient than government, but it is less suited to upholding principles. Dow may be now working happily with the Nature Conservancy–and I did not doubt that the employees I met wanted to make it a greener corporation–but it’s still doing harm to nature. According to the most recent E.P.A. data, Dow’s Freeport plant remains the ninth-highest emitter of bromine, the eighth-highest emitter of chlorine, the fifth-highest of cumene, and the sixth-highest of hexachloroethane, which causes cancer in mice.”
Is “everything in moderation” a good idea when it comes to both a healthy diet and a blueprint for an environmental action plan? A couple of chocolate donuts here, a corporation-friendly environmental agency there…
Would Don Quixote abandon the battlefield because he just wasn’t in the mood?