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Do no harm (including harm to the environment)

April 30 2008 | Jim's Blog,
by Jim

Doctors take the Hippocratic oath "do no harm."

Lawyers take an oath to uphold justice.

Even Google has an (unofficial and unconfirmed) oath/motto of "don't be evil."

But what about business people? Rakesh Khurana wrestles with his a bit on his Harvard Business Review piece "Should managers have a green Hippocratic oath?" (podcast here).

My sense is that we had such a thing... but lost it.

Specifically, we lost it as the world flattened and globalization became a reality.

I believe there was an embedded green oath in people years ago and... we've lost our way. Farmers and other early groups worked from resources that were local and limited. They knew full well that they couldn't rape or spoil their production environment. Would a farmer risk harming the farmland that fed his family? Of course not.

When we shifted to a globalized culture we shifted to a new paradigm... seeking lowest cost labor, easiest to extract natural resources, maximized yield to prop up next quarter's profits... we accelerated the flat world concept. In today's world the mindset is "extract and move on"... because you can. Or... because you could (this is changing as natural resources become more scarce and more valuable).

I my opinion we will swiftly find ourselves re-embracing sustainable practices... because we'll have to.

So what does this have to do with Surfrider Foundation? What does a green Hippocratic oath have to do with the oceans, waves and beaches?

It's all connected. Our mindset regarding land extends to the oceans.

Many people view the ocean as a a vast, perhaps infinite area. We collectively believe that we can dump our trash into the oceans, build apartments on high-tide sand or that we can build a toll road through a state park.

I think, eventually, we're going to come full circle. I hope that circle connects sooner rather than later.

Eventually we'll have to look at the planet the same way that the indigenous people of our lands or the early farmers looked at the land... we're going to have to understand that if we poison our oceans and rivers than we poison ourselves. When we risk harming any farmland there IS a net effect on our family and/or their offspring.

If we take assets away from the "earth equation" then there is less for the generations that come after us.

Do no harm, including to the environment.

Do you agree? Will we make such a full-circle realization? Or is this all hogwash?

image: Jeff Parker – FL Today
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