Societies adapt and transform the environments they inhabit. They depend upon the use of resources and reduction of hazards for their survival and material well-being. They also assign meanings to the environment that vary over place and time, but that help define their identity and values within the world.
The world today, the 21st century, is characterized by global warming and greenhouse effects, resource depletion, environmental pollution, climatic change, population growth, urban blight and global warming-induced deterioration in the environment, the economy and the society.
The problem of environmental pollution has received global concern as seen in the initiatives taken by nations. However, many have pointed out that these initiatives are not sufficiently implemented to protect the environment. Some have demanded political will to impose immediate solution. The result of such demand is political gridlock. In this article, I argue that political initiative can be effective tool to reduce environmental pollution. Political initiative can be a part of the solution to global warming and greenhouse effects. Such initiative would be effective as political action requires public to participate in decision-making process, which requires them to identify and to act on potential problems. These problems can be effectively addressed by giving prominence to environmental issues in the political party platform, by emphasizing political initiative as an effective tool for achieving environmental goals.
Governments can direct the private sector to adopt green technology and to apply green practices and principles. This direction can reduce economic losses associated with environmental pollution. For example, using green technology will make industries more efficient and less costly. Governments can direct the private sector to adopt and to apply green policies. The political direction can make industries adhere to environmentally friendly principles, including, but not limited to, the avoidance of wasteful use of resources, minimizing release of pollutants in the environment, and minimizing use of technology which causes negative impacts on the environment. This direction may include, but not limited to, requiring participation of the industry through legislation, which can effectively implement new green policies.
Economic gains through implementing a program which is environmentally sustainable and is beneficial to the environment are not sufficient to warrant the expenditure of public resources. However, the program can be very efficient and very economical in terms of public resources if adopted with the knowledge of the private sector. This knowledge, if shared by both the public and private sector, may serve as the lever to induce private sector to adopt a green program. The gains are not necessarily confined to the environmental and social problems, but may also include economic gains through adopting a green program. Such gains, when achieved, can be seen as a form of social justice.
To address these issues, governments can mandate and encourage production of green products. Government may also provide incentives to the private sector to adopt green policies. Government must be aware that such incentive schemes will be seen as an intrusion into the market economy by some sectors of the population. Government must also be aware that there are already incentives in place like, federal fuel tax credits, and state green tax credits. These can be expanded upon and made more extensive to address the wider needs of an environmentally sustainable society.
The private sector can also be encouraged to adopt new green business practices through corporate social responsibility programs and through tax credits. The federal program can provide that 10 percent of the cost of adopting a green business practice can be refunded to the purchaser if the product has been acquired before the year 2020. The program can also provide that such cost reimbursement can be extended to third party entities, such as consultants. Corporate social responsibility programs can also provide for voluntary disclosures to the public by a company.
A national corporate social responsibility program can be structured to cover a broad range of issues. The program can cover everything from corporate waste, air pollution, greenhouse gases, greenhouse land fill gases, and government corruption. Issues covered by this program should cover issues which have a systemic impact on the economy, national security, health and welfare and ecology. This program can also cover issues relating to sustainable agriculture, conservation and economic stimulus.
There is room for different approaches to the implementation of these programs. Many of the approaches can be incorporated into existing government agencies and programs. Some approaches must be administered and funded through the private sector. Such private sector programs should receive some form of tax credits. The federal program should encourage the development of standards and certification by third party organizations. A national tree conservation certification program can be administered to promote responsible tree conservation practices and protect consumers from phony tree conservation products.
The federal government can also administer a tree care industry improvement program. The tree care industry can be encouraged to adopt sustainable practices, such as recyclable products, energy efficient buildings, and ecologically sound harvesting and disposal practices. The tree care industry can also be rewarded for adopting environmentally sound practices through government directed tax credits, government contracts, and government mandated compliance.