Resources of Arkansas Are Capital (Feedback)

Congratulations to Delta Plastics and CEO Dhu Thompson for use of recycled plastics.

We can take encouragement from his words, “[F]or plastics extrusion and recycling, the future of manufacturing in the U.S. and in Arkansas is bright….The central location of Arkansas is a boon to its recycling programs,” (Executive Q&A, Feb. 24). A part of Delta Plastics’ mission statement should be our own: “To preserve our environment for future generations.” Let us take a Hippocratic Oath in business, industry and our ordinary daily life: “First, do no harm.”

Actually we are getting a late start on that first oath; we have already passed the tipping point of 350ppm for carbon dioxide, and global warming and climate chaos have set in.

Intense climate disruption is hitting our wallets. Extreme weather — powerful floods, storms, drought, wildfires and heat — cost more than $140 billion in 2012: $1,100 per taxpayer. Our only viable choice now is to slow carbon dioxide production and try to mitigate the harm.

The EPA has issued proposed carbon emission standards for new electrical power plants and has given each state the opportunity to work out its own best means for reducing emissions of existing plants through conservation, cleanup and cleaner energy sources. If we don’t submit a plan the EPA can approve, it will design one for us. Many interested parties insist that we cannot afford to follow the EPA’s rulings.

Actually we cannot afford not to: Our health and our very lives depend on preserving breathable air, clean water, arable land and pollinators for food plants. Seven out of 10 Americans favor the EPA limits.

As Arkansas Business promotes tourism and hospitality this week, let us recognize and celebrate the capital value of this important industry’s infrastructure: Arkansas’ natural resources. The precious mountains, forests, streams and wildlife of our beautiful Natural State required no initial capital outlay, yet they provide us many rich dividends. They have become income-producing capital through tourism, and if cared for, may provide profit for us indefinitely.

Our natural resources are the basic capital for all life and all commerce. “If the economy degrades Nature, this translates into costs and risks for the economy,” Tony Juniper wrote in his 2013 book “What Has Nature Ever Done For Us? How Money Really Does Grow On Trees.” Our habit of spending this capital as though it were dividends is unsustainable, both in nature and in business. We delude ourselves by calling short-term profits “growth,” when often they amount, really, to economic cannibalism, a sort of global Ponzi scheme, doomed to collapse.

It will be difficult to break our late 20th century addiction to three-month profit-taking and return to the wiser classic business model of long-term planning, but we must. Life-sustaining habitat for our nine billion grandchildren is already severely compromised. Will several billion of these babies be born only to suffer famine and other deprivations? Survival of our species or protection of Nature are not the only motives: In a business sense, Juniper wrote, “the reason for sustaining natural resources is about keeping the economy going, not Nature. So why don’t economists get it?”

The newly formed Arkansas Clean Air Team of the Natural Resources Defense Council invites you to join their effort to educate the public and influence political and business leaders in formulating a strong carbon-reduction plan for Arkansas. To join or for further information, phone Dina Nash at (501) 734-8113, or email her at DinaCNash2014@gmail.com.