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    Environment is now the core: Why did Apple abandon US Chamber of Commerce?

    Güven Sak, PhD31 October 2009 - Okunma Sayısı: 1180


    Environmental movements were at the edge of the system until today. They were opponents. But it appears that they will from now on be at the very core of the system. 21st century capitalism will be determined by the decades of opposition by environmental movements. While we all are thinking how the end of the economic crisis will be, capitalism seems in a rush to turn green. See that soon the darkest conservatives will become environmentalists. Environment is now becoming the core. What made me think that? Haven't you heard? Apple Company left US Chamber of Commerce on grounds that the Chamber does not take progressive and constructive attitude towards climate change regulations. Capitalism is becoming green. Let us see what is going on.

    First, let us picture the issue. As Continental legal system is different than the Anglo Saxon legal system; Continental chamber system is different than the Anglo Saxon chamber system. In Continental European countries including Turkey, membership of chamber system is obligatory. In Anglo Saxon countries like the United States of America and the United Kingdom, however, membership is optional. Therefore, if it wishes, Apple Company can leave US Chamber of Commerce. This is the first point.

    Apple's decision to leave the chamber does not end US Chamber of Commerce as a lobbying organization. US Chamber of Commerce is a huge organization network with almost 3 million members. It contains 2800 local chambers. In this respect, vast majority of its members are small and medium size enterprises (SMEs). Other members making statements upon the decision of Apple to abandon the Chamber say that the opinions of the Chamber must be regarded as the composition of individual members' opinions. Accordingly, Apple's decision is not yet the consensus of US business world. This is the second point.

    It is true that, for now Apple's decision is not binding for everyone. However, Apple is not alone in the business world, either. Before Apple, energy companies Pasific Gas & Electric, PNM Resources and de Exelon have left the US Chamber of Commerce on same grounds. Please note that these are the companies that left the Chamber.  Quite recently, Nike has left the Executive Board of the Chamber of Commerce on the same grounds. And this is the third point.

    When it comes to climate change, there is a mood of rebellion over the American business world. If there exists a far reaching mood of rebellion, it is necessary to change the generally accepted approach and paradigm of yesterday. This is what we learned from Thomas Kuhn when we were young. And the recent developments prove that. But, why is this so?

    Why does capitalism turns into green capitalism? Why is the green at the core now? Why will American conservatives become green really soon? We believe there are two main reasons. Let us address this in short today; and then I will design a "bionomics lecture" for you. Bionomics: biology plus economics. The discipline of economics changes most rapidly in such different periods.

    The first reason why green moved in the core is that oil prices exceeded $100. On the one hand this implies that global division of labor cannot spread as it used to be and proximity to markets turns into an advantage. On the other hand that, it is demonstrated that the need and opportunity to switch on alternative energy resources. As the oil prices rise further, it becomes possible to head toward costlier alternative energy resources. "The Stone Age did not end because of the lack of stones, and the Oil Age won't end because of lack of oil." Of course oil companies can wish to postpone the end of the oil age. But the going discussion implies: Should oil prices be kept high or raised even further imposing additional taxes on carbon emissions not leaving the decision to oil companies and oil producer firms? The rebellions advocate the first option. Their concern is: Way for a green technological innovation must be paved. This is exactly the demand arising in the Silicon Valley. In the process of transition, oil prices must remain high. Rather than industrial and technology policies, high level of oil prices will be the locomotive of green technologies.

    The second reason for the journey of green to the core is quite obvious: From now on, the North Pole freeze in summers. Scientists have put forth clearly that the global warming, which leads to this highly awareness-raising development, is manmade. Our life style spread over the planet destroys the living space the planet provides. This process has no end. Billions of Chinese people changing their consumption patterns driving cars and using deodorants only accelerates the destruction. If automobiles are to exist from now on, they have to use an energy resource not causing carbon emission. Formula of deodorants should be different. Renewable energy should come to forefront. If we will stick to the same life style, technology must make a leap. This is exactly what green revolution advocates.

    This is the transformation Turkey must not miss. Staying out of this transformation is being left at the edge of the life. But to be honest, we do not seem aware.

    What are we aware of anyway?


    This commentary was published in Referans daily on 31.10.2009