Environmental Entrepreneurs: Acting Locally To Make A Difference

Nov 05, 2003


Bruce Yandle
Professor Emeritus of Economics
Clemson University 

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In the last fifty years, the environmental movement has grown in popularity and political sophistication. While most policymakers are familiar with organizations such as Greenpeace, the Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Club, there are hundreds of lesser known groups and individuals who are trying to make a difference for their communities each day.

The environmental history of the United States and the rest of the world reveals incredible action taken by ordinary people to conserve and protect their natural resources. Whether it is improving air quality in Los Angeles, eliminating river pollution in Germany, increasing the stock of elephants in Zambia, or paddlefish in Montana, the story of action is a story about entrepreneurship. In many cases, we do not know the names of the key people who made things happen, but we do know their stories and how they overcame tremendous obstacles to improve their surroundings.

Environmental entrepreneurs accomplished things that many social scientists and policymakers would call “impossible.” Given the successes of these amazing people, however, maybe their efforts can inspire those who care about the environment to discover new ways of promoting environmental stewardship.