By Mark R. Tercek and Jonathan S. Adams
Basic Books, 198 pages., $26.99, hardcover.CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Any West Virginian interested in creating a competitive, self-sustaining economy should read Nature's Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive By Investing In Nature.
Mark R. Tercek, the lead co-author, was a managing director and Partner at Goldman Sachs before he became president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. The book tackles the old "environment versus economy" dichotomy by demonstrating how investments in nature are directly tied to future prosperity. Tercek's perspective on cooperation between business, government, and environmental communities can help those of us in West Virginia more clearly see that being blessed with abundant natural resources, in a world of increasing scarcity, allows us an opportunity to define our future.
We in West Virginia have been reared in a zero-sum culture where only winners survive and where our combative style pits management against labor, business against government, and individual property rights against community needs. Our view that the environment and economy are juxtaposed is a logical extension of this frame of reference. As a resource-rich state that prides itself on the quality of life built around our mountains, steams and hollows, leaders who seek to improve our state's economy have much to learn from Nature's Fortune.
Nature's Fortune is a primer on how business and government can prosper by working with nature rather than trying to alter or control it. Maximizing returns, preserving assets, managing risks, diversifying investments and embracing innovation -- all are concepts used by Tercek to explain how investing in nature is our best avenue to compete globally while creating a self-sustaining business model.
Valuing nature does not necessarily mean putting a price on everything. But, water and carbon are two things in abundance in West Virginia that have value and are in need of management. How these two resources are utilized will, to a significant degree, determine West Virginia's role as a natural resource state and whether West Virginia will be a leader or follower as we move into the 21st century.
Water is the world's most precious resource for both people and industry. As such, West Virginia's water assets require careful management. Tercek comments, "The controversy over sharing water between farms and cities in Southern California has a simple cause: not enough water to go around. The contentious issues are allocation and value."