• This blog is maintained by Stephen Filler, a New York-based attorney with expertise in business law, contracts, intellectual property and litigation. He represents a wide variety of businesses, technology, media companies and individuals. He also provides legal and consulting services to sustainable, environmental and renewable energy businesses, non-profit organizations and trade organizations. He is on the board of the New York Solar Energy Industries Association and Secretary of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. His business website is www.nylawline.com.

    The Green Counsel consulting website is www.greencounsel.com.

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Anthony Henry Smith

Stephen Filler
Anthony Henry Smith

I preface these remarks by stating that I consider Green Counsel to be a wonderful forum and a welcome source of useful information. Many thanks to you for making it available!

Regarding “Tipping Point ion the Climate?”:

You state Diamond‘s position:

“1) big businesses sometimes conclude that what is good for the long-term future of humanity is also good for their bottom line.”

There is a difference between business producing a service or a product for profit based on “enlightened self interest” and the not-for-profit business of environmentalism that has as its product a changed human being; one who thinks and acts differently in relation to the biosphere and to one’s immediate environment.

The difference between doing business based on the environment as opposed to thinking and acting differently in relation to the environment based on a change of values is part of the major schism that divides professional environmentalism from the environmental movement, newly revitalized by the public response to climate change.

This schism has resulted in an attack by the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. against fellow environmentalists opposing wind turbines in the Cooperstown area, including a personal attack against Robert H. Boyle, widely considered to be the individual most responsible for arming the environmental movement with the tool of law as the result of the Storm King Mountain decision.

You further state Diamond‘s position:

“2) voters in democracies sometimes make good choices.”

This is extremely thin soup. Diamond’s position, all but compromised by the insertion of “sometimes” needs to be preceded by an explanation of why Diamond has chosen to prefer this position in view of his lengthy, but by no means exhaustive discussion of Barbara Tuchman’s question :

“Why do holders of high office so often act contrary to the way reason points and enlightened self interest suggests? … Why does American business insist on growth when it is demonstrably using up three basics of life on our planet - land, water and unpolluted air? (While unions and businesses are not strictly government in the political sense, they represent governing situations.)” The March of Folly, from Troy to Vietnam, Barbara Tuchman, 1984, ISBN: 0-394-5277-1, pg. 4

According to Felicity Barringer, (“A Coalition for Firm Limit on Emissions,” New York Times, Jan. 19, 2007)

“…businesses want to get ahead of the increasing political momentum for federal emissions controls, in part to ensure that their long-term interests are protected.”

The article darkly concludes:

“Timing also played a role in the executives’ thinking. As Mr. Darbee said, ‘We have the opportunity to construct something more pragmatic and realistic while President Bush is in office.’ A future political climate, after 2008, he said, might produce ‘solutions less sensitive to the needs of business.’”

An optimist might read this differently.



Thanks for your kind words. It seems to me that the more environmental deterioration we have, the more that businesses will realize it's in their enlightened self interest to protect the environment. Since businesses must make that realization if we are to have any hope of slowing global warming and species destruction, I think efforts such as this new coalition should be applauded. What personal attack are you referring to?

Nathan - How to Prevent Global Warming Newsletter

I think this change certainly illustrates the reasoning for Jared Diamond's optimism, but at the same time also speaks to his caution, because these changes are still very modest and may be too little and too late.

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