With uncanny perfect timing, I have started my final Graduate Renewable Energy Certificate (GREC) class, (Principles of Sustainability for Business Application), in the same week that our new president has suspended funding for all research being conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency. Why? To “undergo an unspecified internal vetting process before sharing their work outside the agency” according to NPR, (EPA investigation). This investigation is intended to “[prohibit] ‘all EPA employees, including scientists, managers and other Agency leadership from suppressing, altering, or otherwise impeding the timely release of scientific findings or conclusions,'” until assurances can be made that “the voice coming from the EPA is one that’s going to reflect the new administration.” Really? Need I insert the comment “alternative facts?”
My intention isn’t to bash the new administration, but I will certainly question their tactics in regards to the overall economy and, both indirectly and directly, the environment! The best argument I have against their tactics comes from my first week’s reading assignment:
“It is true that economic growth, by increasing a nation’s total wealth, also enhances its potential for reducing poverty and solving other social problems. But history offers a number of examples where economic growth was not followed by similar progress in human development. Instead growth was achieved at the cost of greater inequality, higher unemployment, weakened democracy, loss of cultural identity, [and/]or overconsumption of natural resources needed by future generations.” -Tatyana Soubbotina, (1).
That last point mentioned about overconsumption of natural resources is critical, especially in regards to economic sustainability. When discussing how resources are acquired and used, it’s essential to remember that down to the economy’s basic foundations, the human race relies entirely on the planet for everything we have needed and will continue to need. If we do not take care of our planet, we will inevitably use all of its available resources and there will no longer be an economy to be concerned about. So my argument is very simple:
Take care of the environment in order to take care of yourself and our way of life.
Trump’s intentions to create more manufacturing opportunities in America by reducing the environmental regulations is understandable from a business standpoint: reduce the number of entry barriers into the industry to allow access for more competitors. It’s a major part of Procter’s Five Force in business strategy. However, as Soubbotina mentioned above, “growth [is] achieved at the cost of…overconsumption of natural resources.” Consuming clean air, water, crops, and other resources without reducing the amount of harmful waste will put the world back into the ages of the Industrial Revolution, (my previous post on going green goes into more detail on the deadly consequences of previous economic growth).
So, Trump’s goal of “mak[ing] America great again” is understandable, if not a little pompous. However, the overall and more basic meaning behind the same message is that all Americans and, more importantly, all humans want to create a better tomorrow for themselves which is beautiful, reasonable, and achievable. And we can NOT make a better tomorrow without making a change, and Trump is certainly making a LOT of changes. Whether they are for the better, especially in some of his first attempts such as trying to moderate the EPA, are skeptical to me at the very least. But, we can still achieve greatness, as a nation and globally. Just fair warning: it will be the human race’s downfall to take “shortcuts,” like the ones Trump is proposing, and lose sight of the end goal for making Earth great again.
- Soubbotina, Tatyana P.. 2004. Beyond Economic Growth: An Introduction to Sustainable Development, Second Edition. Washington, DC: World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/14865
Photo credit: https://customplanet.com/Designs/6003/MAKE-EARTH-GREAT-AGAIN/b4775511-90a0-4a22-b812-48189d8bdaea.aspx