LAW NO.1 IS TO OBEY NATURAL LAWS…
Ecology and economy, former enemies as a partners?
Environmental pollution is a global issue touching every society on the Earth. Thus, let’s learn a lesson from the approach to this issue in the former communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. We might know that in the 80`s these countries adapted very strict rules to curb pollution. However, law enforcement failed in many cases because of the utopic, un-natural character of such a society. Restriction and financial punishment of those “pollution producers” was rare in practice because of the general excuse that these “publicly owned” factories would fall short of their production quotas. And production was believed to be a law itself pretending to make it good for everybody. In fact, the sustainable managed development of a healthy environment is unimaginable without respecting the natural mechanisms. Each society, which has ignored them and put its anthropomorphic “even so” on the first place, has paid its price – has shown to be unable to survive. Communism, demonstrating a certain good will, had deleted the fact of death and decay in the economic sphere. Non-effective companies had become “immortal” and consequently killed their patron, the communism. It had become unable of concurrence against other economical systems that respect this, at first look a negative, element of natural laws.
One of the self-saving mechanisms of Nature is auto-regulation and we may also see it in purely human activities. In the seemingly antagonistic relationship of ecology and economy a new important progressive element has shown up in countries that adopted a free-market economy. Ecological thinking had become an important factor in the global market – so-called “environmental friendly products” are nowadays a strong weapon of concurrency. In the near future, disregarding environmental criteria will be fatal for companies. This surely is a welcomed auto-regulating element, the occurrence of which is to be supported in the interest of the sustainable managed environmental development. The question of “corporate greening” became the question of the summit of international leaders at the United Nations in June 1997 when they evaluated progress since the 1992 Earth Summit. However, they had to admit that government and institutional aid has fallen, leaving more responsibility for green innovations to the free market. And such leading companies like Northeast Utilities or even Union Carbide (that is touting new biodegradable industrial detergents for washing grease-stained uniforms) want to be “greenest of the green“. Furthermore, even such a conservative institution like an army is now contributing to new trend by its “green ammunition”. This new approach of the U.S. military means replacement of lead-based bullets by less toxic tungsten. Research has cost $ 12 million so far and the Army will produce first regular series of 50 million rounds of it in this year. “We want to be good stewards of the environment,” said Army spokeswoman Karen Baker.
More examples are on the hand - one of the largest oil firms, British Petroleum, already made a significant step when they joined efforts with The Environmental Defense Fund some years ago. After decades of battle with environmentalists more and more corporate executives are adapting ideas they once ignored. Perhaps we will soon see a new natural law in practice – a symbiosis of business and a healthy environment. Once enemies become partners?
The future in everyone’s hands
Of course not all environmentalists are convinced in such a U-turn. Instead of seeing corporate green, they suspect companies of greenwashing by superficial changes that made merely just to attract consumers. But consumers already realized their power of not-buying (as in the case of the Exxon tanker disaster) and furthermore they recently found the power of their investment in companies who obey an environmentally friendly policy. These habits are still to be adopted by the consumers in post-communist countries. But they already learn a lesson. The lesson from communism is that progress is never made by restrictions. And also, that progress is hard to predict and even harder to plan…