Oct 03

The Scales of Green: Everything, and everybody, seems to want to be “green” these days.  No longer the province of just radical “treehuggers,” corporations and conservatives around the world are joining the call to protect the environment and “Save the Earth.”  But what really counts as such righteous behavior?  What is just public relations and “greenwashing,” vs. genuine effort, intention and impact in making a difference?  And perhaps even more importantly, who gets to make such a determination, and on what basis?

Setting the Scales: Over hundreds of years we have come to expect the “Scales of Justice” to be balanced and enforced by institutions of law — legislatures, courts, and government institutions.  We have no similar understanding, however, of how the “Scales of Green” operate.  As protecting the environment, the climate, and our natural resources become increasingly important, complex and contentious for our society and our world, we will need much more robust scales for measuring “greenness,” at many different scales of analysis, from the level of the individual citizen to the level of the global corporation.

The Scope of the Scales:This site aims to explore this topic from a range of perspectives, from the science underlying these claims to the political and organizational dynamics driving them.  Both the popular trends and the longer-term philosophical implications of this “Green Rush” will be investigated, in order to build a better understanding of where we are, where we have been, and where we are going.

In particular, a variety of scales will be explored, from the most local to the most global.  What scales are being used to measure the environmental performance of products, companies, sectors, countries, even individuals?  Why have these measures emerged, how are they constructed, and what are their implications for government, non-profit organizations, industry, and consumer-citizens?

Behind the Scales: These questions relate to work I have been doing for the past decade in academia, the non-profit sector, and the the private sector.  They relate to my work at environmental organizations and think-tanks including The Nature Conservancy, Resources for the Future, and the World Wildlife Fund, as well as my work at an industry association (EEI) and a social venture start-up (GoodGuide.com) that I co-founded at Berkeley.  And they connect to my dissertation research I completed at the the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management (in the College of Natural Resources), and my current work as an Assistant Professor at Davidson College.   The idea of this site was to give me an opportunity to share what I am learning as I work on my research, and get feedback from people who are interested in these questions as well.

The topics are organized under five main categories:

Tags that reference particular companies, countries, and perspectives will also be included where appropriate.

I look forward to investigating these topics on this site, and hope you find them interesting and helpful!

If you would like to learn more about my own background, please click here.

Image above is from: http://www.mpgroup.com/justice.jpg.