Environment and regulation

Lucie - Aubagne, France
Entered on April 26, 2009

I believe in government to deal with the environmental crisis.

Last year, I had to write an essay in my college, in France, about the question “Are the US an empire on the decline?”. At that time, I answered that they are not, that a crisis is different from an irreversible decline. I described the US as the superpower of the world. I explained how they would face their internal and external challenges –among other things: climate change. I thought their solution would be adaptability and innovation: they were the leaders, the elections were approaching and “change” was the C world. A crisis is necessarily followed by recovery.

I have been living in Los Angeles for four months and if I had to re-write the essay now, my thesis would certainly be more mitigated. I realized how close we are to an ecological disaster: cars and plastic bags reign unchallenged on the city of Los Angeles. Is it reasonable to resign oneself to a 24/7 traffic? If you are the leader, don’t you have to show the way? Don’t you have to consider the environmental challenge as an emergency? Especially when you are the number one polluting country?

I am worried…but I am optimistic because I believe in government and because I believe in change. But how can we change the habits of humanity? How can we deal with the terrible traffic in LA and the continuing pollution and dependence it generates? I am a future manager and I believe in liberalism. Does it mean that I cannot believe in governmental regulations? Actually, I think that it is the role of the government to make decisions that will change society. An isolated and personal initiative for the good of humanity is worth nothing if the rest of humanity does not support your initiative. What we need is a collective and shared effort. Government can develop public transportation, decrease its cost and put car drivers at a disadvantage. Government can forbid plastic bags. Government can encourage recycling. Government can implement carbon cap policy.

We need change: I’d like to find a way of continuing to make profits while taking the environment into account. I don’t think business people will take the initiative to go green and that’s why I’m writing about my belief in regulation. I don’t mean that business people are all uninterested in the environmental issue. Some companies are environmentally friendly and support sustainable projects. But what I mean is that these companies are a weak minority. And if you are a manager with moderate green convictions, I don’t think that you will necessarily be able or eager to make the carbon footprint the company’s priority. I am not convinced that we are trained in this perspective, even if the issue is no longer ignored in business schools. But the main argument is that you cannot ignore the desires and motivations of the other stakeholders. The manager’s environmental sensibility is definitely not what will create profit.

As a citizen, I want to protect the planet through daily and institutionalized acts and I will vote for environmentally concerned politicians. As a future manager, I will support these politicians: I want to assure them that they have the legitimacy to regulate the corporate world and to make the environmental issue a priority.