Paul Hawken The Ecology of Commerce A Declaration of Sustainability

Paul Hawken: The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability

PaulHawken: The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability

Mainarguments of the book

PaulHawken addresses environmental ethics in the world today. He depictsthat the environment is degraded by the economic systems whoaimlessly utilizes resources for unintended purposes while at thesame time releasing toxic chemicals into the environment. Theeconomic system does not adopt the natural cycle of activitieswhereby wastes turn out to be food to some microorganisms in theenvironment. According to Paul Hawken, the economic system has playeda negative role in disrupting the natural cycle. In a natural cycleecosystems, there are no wastes since everything is fully recycled(Bunker and Hawken, 1995). However, a closer look at the other sideof the economic ecosystem, things are totally different sinceeverything seems to take an artificial path. If the economicecosystem mimicked the natural ecosystem, pollution would not be ahuge problem as it is currently. Floods and landslides would not berampant in the world. Just like the ozone layer would have beenintact.

Unlikethe natural cycle, the industrial process is linear this results inhuge wastes which impact the environment leading to its long termdegradation. For instance industries rely on fossil fuels and otherrelated carbon based fuels. The impact of this type of energy sourcesis far more than it can be seen they release carbon dioxide which isa threat to both human and animal life. Hawken postulates that theeconomy must change from that based on harmful waste products thathamper our environment to one that is restorative. He goes further todepict that in order to save the current environment this changesmust be absorbed immediately. However, achieving that position is anuphill task since most businesses are driven by a profit motive. Thismeans that most businesses work hard to get rid of any additionalcosts that may compromise their profit margins. It is because of suchaspects that environmental concern is not given an upper hand in oureconomic system (Bunker and Hawken, 1995).

Mostmultinational companies come into the market with a main intention ofmaking profits and disregard human lives. For instance, a number ofcompanies around the globe have been caught dumping wastes intorivers and lakes. These wastes contain a high amount of metals likemercury that become detrimental to marine life. Hawken goes furtherto suggest that in order for businesses to adopt environmentalethics, there must be a shift to an ecologic economic system, thissystem will be able to yield minimum wastes as compared to theartificial system created by industries. The ecologic economic systemis expected to adhere to the operations of the cyclical processes ofnature whereby waste from one stage is food in the next stage.

Useof fossil fuels that emit huge capacities of carbon dioxide will bereplaced and eliminated by a switch from carbon in the productionprocess. An ecologic economic system is primarily based on feedbackand accountability that is directed in instilling and strengtheningthe restorative nature of the system (Fitzgerald and Conlogue, 2013).Hawken points out that the change must take place in order to ensuresurvival on the planet, however the carrying capacity of the planetis not known. Carrying capacity can be described as the amount ofpopulation that can be supported by the planet and the amount ofwastes that can be absorbed by the environment without leading toenvironmental deficiency. Businesses prefer to use a number oftechniques to regulate their production techniques in situationswhere it is impossible to change the production techniques (Bunkerand Hawken, 1995).

Thispaper discusses some of the unethical activities undertaken bybusinesses on the environment in agreement with the book. Further thepaper paints a clear picture on the implications of unethicalbehaviors in the environment by huge corporations and industriesacross the globe. One of the major unethical activities undertaken bymost businesses is poor waste management approaches. This leads tomassive pollution of the environment.

EnvironmentalEthics abused by businesses

Iagree with Hawken because since the inception of industrializationand technological revolutions, economic factors have been used inmeasuring performance and progress. The industrial and technologicalprogress however is associated with a number of negative impacts onthe environment in terms of pollution and degradation of resourcesmeant for human, animal and plant survival. Industrialization hasbeen associated with negative effects that lead environmental damagecompounded with other factors like human greed and abetted needs.Manufacturing, processing, consumption and transportation activitiesaccount for the largest portions of environmental pollution. Theseactivities do not only deplete the environmental resources but theyalso add stress to the environmental variables by accumulation ofstock of wastes.

Industrialproductivity depends on the supply and quality of environmental andnatural resources available in the environment. Productivity assetsinclude water, soil, and air and forest resources in addition tofisheries however these factors have been tremendously affected byindustrial revolution to the extent that they no longer exist inabundance. Forest cover across the globe has reduced tremendously,in a report given by UNEP the world’s forest cover is barely 10%.Very few nations in the world have accomplished the requiredpercentage of forest cover of 10% as well (K.M., 2013). This meansthat deforestation and use of forest resources has superseded thereplenishment of the forests. Urbanization is another factor that hasled to depletion of a number of resources in the world today. Forinstance, many cities and towns are cropping up each passing day dueto the increased number of industries even in the rural areas. Asmuch as these industries lead to creation of employment, they do thisat the expense of the environment. Hawken depicts that human racestands to lose if environmental issues are not addressed properly asper the required technicalities (Kheifets and Matkin, 2011).

Onmost occasions environmental degradation is irreversible henceimposing damaging costs on the economy, this in effect leads to humanloss, loss of labor productivity due to unhealthy conditions and lossof food. The ecological and social costs associated with such effectsof pollution and environmental degradation has placedindustrialization on a watch list. Many critics have questioned therelevance of industrialization on human lives and the overall natureof the environment as a method of economic development.Industrialization has registered an increase rate of about 45% in therecent past this is coupled up by the continued increase intechnology that has enabled industries to exploit natural resources.As much as the process is effective in achieving civilization, anumber of questions remain unaddressed, this is mainly becauseindustrialization a pollution agent (Industrial wastes and theenvironment, 2014).

Industrialpollution due to its nature poses a huge threat to human existence.Some organisms cannot effectively survive in some locations, whilethere are those which cannot adhere to certain environmentalconditions. For instance some of the extinct animals like thedinosaurs and mammoths became extinct because of the adverseconditions inflicted by industrialization in the 18thcentury. This illustrates the negative effects of industrializationto the environment. A number of studies have depicted that air andwater pollution are responsible for numerous deaths across the globemore especially in the developing nations who are apparently notindustrialized. Thus, it is very important for organizations andgovernments to collaborate and ensure adoption of pollution controlapproaches to curb the rising number of premature mortality and illhealth. Environmental degradation and pollution was first noted in1970s after it was pointed out that mass production by industries andmass consumption by the society were responsible for the depletion ofresources and generation of hazardous materials. The environmentalchallenges and the natural resources management were first recognizedin 1972 at the United Nations Human Environment Conference atStockholm. Since this period a number of campaigns have been directedtowards this problem (Fitzgerald and Conlogue, 2013).

Tourismhas been pointed out as the best environmental conservationframework many countries in the world have been compelled to adoptnature based tourism. Naturebased tourism is defined as that form of tourism that culminates theviewing of nature as the primary objective. It is depicted as anatural form of tourism that highlights elements of nature and theenvironment such as safaris and wildlife, marine, mountains, lakesand many other natural resources that a country can possess(Kim, 2008).This form of tourism is geared towards the conservation of theenvironment and ensuring that there is environmental sustainability.Nature based tourism correlates with adventure tourism thatillustrates as that segment of tourism that encompasses theexploration or travelling to varied destinations with an intention toexperience outdoor adrenalin rush activities. Both natures based andadventure tourism is greatly manifested in Nepal since as much as themountaineers experience phenomenon activities like mountain climbingthey also have a chance to view the greatest landscape in the world.It essentially takes away all the concentration of the tourists(Kheifets and Matkin, 2011).

Accordingto an American travel agency, nature and adventure tourism in theglobe are increasingly becoming major points of concentration for thenations and the tourists themselves. Role of nature and adventuretourism cannot be forfeited in today’s market it encompassesvarious opportunities that point out the fast growing tourismindustry. The basic topics on this niche include outdoor adventureand management training, environmental sustainability, geography,supply and environmental sustainability. It is the illumination ofthese major courses that Nepal nature and adventure tourism gets anupper hand. Nepal has the potential to come up with other forms ofnature and adventure tourism besides the experience she gives onmountain climbing. One major contributory role of nature andadventure tourism is environmental conservation efforts. Tourismamounts to 65% of all the efforts to conserve the environment. If acountry concentrates on tourism it must ensure that wildlife and thegeneral environment are conserved otherwise tourism will not thrive(Kim, 2008).


Iagree with the book by depicting that environmental degradation andpollution is an effect that continues to be felt across the globe.Just like Hawken puts it the environment requires a system where itis able to rejuvenate and this is the main reason why governments incollaboration with the private sector ought to develop a framework tocurb the menace. 21stcentury is culminated by a number of activities that requireenvironmental resources as compared to 20thcentury. For instance the rate at which the industries in the worldare growing is alarming. It is imperative for the United NationsEnvironmental department to consider the need to inculcateenvironmental conservation efforts in our younger generation who aremajorly drawn by IT and industrialization (K.M., 2013).

Itend to agree with Hawken’s illustration of the extent ofenvironmental degradation and pollution in the world. For instance,according to a report published by the World Health Organizationdepicted that approximately 10% of patients in hospitals die fromdiseases associated with environmental hazards like smoke, fire,flood and landslides. The root cause of such problems is the alarmingrates of environmental pollution and degradation in the presentsociety. Thus, it is crucial for conservation and green energytechnology to be adopted.


Bunker,S. and Hawken, P. (1995). The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration ofSustainability. ContemporarySociology,24(4), p.371.

Fitzgerald,D. and Conlogue, W. (2013). Working in the Garden: American Writersand the Industrialization of Agriculture. EnvironmentalHistory,9(2), p.326.

Industrialwastes and the environment. (2014). MarinePollution Bulletin,7(10), p.179.

K.M.,(2013). Air pollution control and industrial energy production.EnvironmentalPollution (1970),14(2), pp.155-156.

Kheifets,L. and Matkin, C. (2011). Industrialization, electromagnetic fields,and breast cancer risk. EnvironHealth Perspect,107(Suppl 1), pp.145-154.

Kim,J. (2008). Environmental Conflicts and Activism withIndustrialization in South Korea. CLEAN- Soil, Air, Water,36(5-6), pp.419-425.