At a time when the human impact on the environment is more devastating than ever, business initiatives frame the quest to "green" capitalism as the key to humanity's long-term survival. Indeed, even before the rise of the environmental movement in the 1970s, businesses sometimes had reasons to protect parts of nature, limit their production of wastes, and support broader environmental reforms. In the last thirty years, especially, many businesses have worked hard to reduce their direct and indirect environmental footprint. But are these efforts exceptional, or can capitalism truly be environmentally conscious?
Green Capitalism? offers a critical, historically informed perspective on building a more sustainable economy. Written by scholars of business history and environmental history, the essays in this volume consider the nature of capitalism through historical overviews of twentieth-century businesses and a wide range of focused case studies. Beginning early in the century, contributors explore the response of business leaders to environmental challenges in an era long before the formation of the modern regulatory state. Moving on to midcentury environmental initiatives, scholars analyze failed business efforts to green products and packaging-such as the infamous six-pack ring-in the 1960s and 1970s. The last section contains case studies of businesses that successfully managed greening initiatives, from the first effort by an electric utility to promote conservation, to the environmental overhaul of a Swedish mining company, to the problem of household waste in pre-1990 West Germany. Ranging in geographic scope from Europe to the United States, Green Capitalism? raises questions about capitalism in different historical, sociocultural, and political contexts.
Contributors: Hartmut Berghoff, Ann-Kristin Bergquist, Brian C. Black, William D. Bryan, Julie Cohn, Leif Fredrickson, Hugh S. Gorman, Geoffrey Jones, David Kinkela, Roman Koester, Joseph A. Pratt, Adam Rome, Christine Meisner Rosen.
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Hartmut Berghoff is Director of the Institute for Economic and Social History at the University of Gottingen, Germany. Adam Rome is Professor of History at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York.
PART I. THE BIG PICTURE
Chapter 1. The Ecology of Commerce: Environmental History and the Challenge of Building a Sustainable Economy
-Adam Rome 1
Chapter 2. Shades of Green: A Business-History Perspective on Eco-Capitalism
Chapter 3. The Role of Businesses in Constructing Systems of Environmental Governance
-Hugh S. Gorman
PART II. CONSERVATION BEFORE ENVIRONMENTALISM
Chapter 4. Business Leadership in the Movement to Regulate Industrial Air Pollution in Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century America
-Christine Meisner Rosen
Chapter 5. "Constructive and Not Destructive Development": Permanent Uses of Resources in the American South
-William D. Bryan
Chapter 6. Utilities as Conservationists? The Paradox of Electrification During the Progressive Era in North America
PART III. FAILURES AND DILEMMAS
Chapter 7. Plastic Six-Pack Rings: The Business and Politics of an Environmental Problem
Chapter 8. The Rise and Fall of an Ecostar: Green Technology Innovation and Marketing as Regulatory Obstruction
PART IV. GOING GREEN
Chapter 9. Dilemmas of Going Green: Environmental Strategies in the Swedish Mining Company Boliden, 1960-2000
Chapter 10. Private Companies and the Recycling of Household Waste in West Germany, 1965-1990
Chapter 11. Kill-a-Watt: The Greening of Consolidated Edison in the 1970s
-Joseph A. Pratt
Chapter 12. Entrepreneurship, Policy, and the Geography of Wind Energy
Chapter 13. Driving Change: The Winding Road to Greener Automobiles
-Brian C. Black
"Fresh and thought-provoking . . . [W]hat makes this volume stand out is its emphasis on creative deployment of business history techniques to get at new understandings of manmade ecological change. By paying close attention to firm structure and strategy-the stuff of old-school business history-these authors show how historical research into corporations might offer innovative solutions to the pressing global environmental problems we face today."-Environmental History "Green Capitalism? is an in-depth, and carefully analyzed, contribution to the relatively unexplored intersection of business history and environmental history."-Joel Tarr, Carnegie Mellon University "Green Capitalism? is a very forward-looking volume in its focus on how the two 'isms'-capitalism and environmentalism-might find common cause. Taken together, these excellent essays tell a story regarding the challenges of 'green capitalism' that readers of both history and environmental policy will find useful."-Sean Adams, University of Florida
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