Many people talk about "sustainability" as if our prime task is to sustain our jobs in our corporations, our businesses. Their message is that our top priority is to find ways for business to continue as usual, and perhaps transform in marginally less destructive directions. I see things the other way around. The task of business is to sustain humanity. If, instead, it is set in ways that make it impossible for us to live a decent future, it is business that needs to change, and quickly.
Instead, exploiting the last tree or the last barrel of oil, exploiting the last foreign worker, is the current focus, and it needs to change. But if we are waiting for entitled CEO's and financial wizards to voluntarily turn off the money spigot that is draining our nation's wealth and our planet's health, that will never happen. The oil, gas and coal extraction and transport industries need to be put on a schedule that drastically cuts their production in order to save our species. They will not do it on their own. If we need to keep oil and coal in the ground in order to save our planet, so be it.
Otherwise, we are putting the cart before the horse, having the tail wagging the dog. Corporations are not a higher form of being than humans. They dare not assert any rights that do not serve the interests of humanity. Otherwise, we have fascism. Humans need hope. We need to be able to flourish. Corporations are freaking imaginary entities on a piece of paper! Let's figure out what our energy resources need to be in order to protect human (and other) life on this planet - and put limits on the production and use of fossil fuel.
Corporations presently run our government and are running our planet into oblivion. We need to use our still-present democratic institutions to change this. Businesses need to change, to adapt to new circumstances. But we can't wait for them to decide to re-tool or re-invest. They are, by law, greedy bastards (with the power to manipulate public opinion and even elections) that need a strong government to set limits to protect us from their excesses.
Corporations need to be told what they can, and cannot, do. For that, we need a government like we had during the Great Depression, strong enough to manage rationing, keep the banks open and establish massive public works projects. We need government like we had during World War II, strong enough to manage, mobilize and win a major international effort.
Businesses did not do these things on their own! They played a huge role in those efforts, but as followers, as can-do supporters and organizers for our national efforts. It is high time that our business leaders stepped forward to help lead us to safety in these troubled times. They need to be told to stop destroying and exploiting humanity, to stop promoting insane wars, and to serve humanity, again. Only then will be likely to make progress in finding paths to sustainable flourishing for the human race. The task of corporate leadership is not to continue seeking only ways to profit from us, but to find ways to stay afloat while they are helping humanity adapt to a more sustainable future.