“Can economic growth be good for the environment?” That is a question I am asked frequently by my environmentalist friends.
Dr. Robert Reich has served as Labor Secretary for three administrations and is currently the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at University of California, Berkeley. At a recent lecture he raised the question of whether economic growth is “green.”
He answered the question with another question, of whether we as Americans want better schools or health care? If yes, then that is a form of increased consumption and economic growth. He emphasized a distinction between consumerism (a lifestyle of buying more stuff) and consumption (buying things that add value to life).
This idea of consumption and investment as a path to both economic growth and sustainability is the very foundation of Earth 2017. My economic analysis is that consumerism and “unsustainability” is pricing itself out of the market. If you need an example take a look at the pained looks on the faces of SUV owners at the gasoline pump.
The concept of Earth 2017 is that consumers and governments need to invest in new technologies and new fuels and more efficient homes/cities as a lower cost and lower emission alternative to the consumption of unsustainable goods and services.
And the opportunity this creates is an estimated $10 trillion annual revenue global economy in sustainable goods and services by the year 2017.
The answer to the question of whether economic growth is “green” is that it must be if we are to restore our economy, our jobs and the environment.
Bill Roth is the founder of Earth 2017 that focuses upon the emerging smart, healthy and green economy. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles best practices of businesses making money going green.