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Eric Douglas: The environment is good for business

Earth Day was about a week and a half ago. Day events are helpful, because they focus attention and provide a rallying point for supporters.

On the other hand, they can give a false sense of accomplishment. “Hey, I did my part on Earth Day.” And then we go back to doing things the way we always have.

In recent years, protecting the environment has become a binary decision. Either you have to protect the planet, or protect jobs and the economy. It seems people believe there’s no middle ground.

The problem is with that attitude is a healthy planet is good for business. And a lot of businesses have come to realize it.

When a company is looking for a place to locate a new facility, they look for a clean, healthy place for their employees to live. That’s a sure way to lower their health-care costs.

I recently read an article on NPR’s website that Toyota made the corporate decision that all their facilities will be zero-carbon by 2050. To do that, they need to have most, if not all, of their electricity generated by renewable energy sources. States that can’t produce enough energy to meet Toyota’s goal, and the goals of other companies like General Motors, Ford, Walmart and L’Oreal, will miss out. This same sentiment was echoed in a recent article in the Sunday Gazette-Mail interviewing the president of Appalachian Power.

Another example of the business reality of being Earth friendly is oil. In 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States imported about 10 million barrels a day, mostly in the form of crude oil. In the same year, we exported a bit more than five million barrels of petroleum products, such as gasoline and diesel fuel. Canada was the top country sending us oil, but the next were Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia. Doesn’t it make sense to do things like recycle plastic and strive for higher gas mileage cars so we can be completely independent on foreign oil? That makes it a national security issue as far as I’m concerned.

Whether you personally believe in climate change, and man’s part in it, or not doesn’t really matter. Companies large and small do. And they demand certain things or they will take their business elsewhere.

That’s a lesson we must learn. Soon.

Eric Douglas, of Pinch, is the author of “Return to Cayman,” “Heart of the Maya,” “Cayman Cowboys,” “River Town” and other novels. He is also a columnist for Scuba Diving Magazine and a former Charleston Newspapers Metro staff writer. For more information, visit or contact him at


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