Check out the Sustainable Books section after reading!
While I have heard of most of these, I was pretty alarmed at the fact I had hardly read any of them.
One of the first books Hightower recommends is Paul Hawken's The Ecology of Commerce. Even though I haven't read this (shame on me) I know this needs to be on my Sustainable Inspirations Books post. In regards to this book, she mentions that David Douglas, the sustainability chief (every company needs to have a sus. chief AND an energy manager, but I digress...) at Sun Microsystems points out: " 'eco' = ecology AND economy."
This is such an important point that I am going to have to split up this post and focus on this one issue for the remaining. See part 2 for the rest of Obama's suggested reading.
Eco = Ecology and Economy!
So often environmentalists just focus on the Ecology side of the above equation, and forget the Economy side, just like capitalists only focus on the Economy portion and leave everything else out. But in reality, they both need to happen at the same time! You CAN'T have a strong Economy by throwing Ecology to the way-side and the reverse is also true!
Let me rephrase that. You can have just one of the components, but you can't sustain it. It is not SUSTAINABLE! Too often we think of Sustainability mostly as an environmental issue, but as we've seen the last few months, it's just as important for financial institutions to operate Sustainability. You can only get rich on trading "garbage derivatives" for so long before the bottom falls out!
As Dr. Seuss pointed out in his classic, The Lorax,you can't sacrifice Ecology for the sake of the Economy. Eventually, your natural resources will be depleted, the land will be ruined, your people unhappy, and nothing to show for it but a few dollars.
And as we're seeing with alternative energy projects being put on hold, you can't sacrifice the economy for the sake of ecology. If there is no money to set aside to invest in cleaning up rivers, creating new forms of clean power, or stopping deforestation so people can cook their food, then these projects can't get started.
There is a symbiotic relationship here that has existed ever since man first traded the first stone tool for a piece of meat. It will continue to exist until the last flux capacitor runs out of garbage. It is time for everyone to stop ignoring these fundamental laws of nature, and realize how they can maximize ecological benefits along with economical benefits, and visa-versa.
So what does this mean for you and your daily life? Think about saving energy/water. You are saving money and helping the environment. You might not work that hard if you just help the environment, but if you save money too, it is a win-win. On the flip side, everyone would love solar panels on their roof, but for some, they just dont have capital to invest in them yet. So until the economics works out, the ecological benefits can't happen.
So read the books and realize that we dont have to argue about whether we need to save the environment or save or economy. They are not mutually exclusive. We need to save both.