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  Business Times 29 Aug 07
Taking the green message to business

IT'S been said so often as to seem almost a platitude: 'Go green because it's good for your business'.

And certainly there are many high-profile examples of corporations taking measures to make their businesses more environment-friendly. But by and large, the impact of the green message on the corporate world remains depressingly negligible.

We need to ask why, and what can be done about it.

On the positive front, more people have been alerted to the dangers of global warming and other environmental disasters than at any time in the industrial and post-industrial era.

The process of educating billions of people around the globe has been hugely aided by modern communications, with green evangelists taking their message to the masses via radio, television and print publications, and now the Internet.

Al Gore may have struck more than a few uncomfortable chords with his 'inconvenient truth', but the war on environmental ignorance is in fact being carried out by tens of thousands of lieutenants and footsoldiers armed with nothing more than a cause.

Many are passionate young people who have moved beyond traditional media to the interactive world of the Internet. For them, the Web's social networking sites and strategies are the perfect way to disseminate information, identify and encourage green initiatives, and generally educate tens of millions of their young peers in an intensively interactive environment.

The educating is more effective because the lessons are shared, dissected, criticised and recreated by consensus.

It is education that is absorbed, not imposed. Some call it Web 2.0; the name doesn't matter, the experience does.

And that is a lesson that their senior counterparts in business and government could take to heart.

Not in the area of green products and activities; leave that to the experts.

It takes scientists to create more effective and eco-friendly fuels and efficient hybrid cars, engineers to reduce the power and emission needs of a manufacturing process.

It needs an experienced business team to convert eco-friendly innovations into commercially feasible products. And it takes visionary government officials to project a country's needs decades into the future, and create a public transportation system that is effective, and people as well as environment-friendly.

But that's already happening.

So why do the mass of business folk, who stand to benefit from eco-friendly innovations and infrastructure, continue to drag their heels?

Simply, the message hasn't got through.

And so long as this vast majority remains uncommitted, the industrial fog will stay, both literally and figuratively.

Clearly, education is key. But education imposed in the traditional way has proved to be ineffective.

Which is why it's worth paying attention to the new-media world of our youth, where information is dynamically shared and absorbed. It could be the strategy that turns the tide.

Related articles on Singapore: general environmental issues
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