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The Green Wave

Sometimes all you need is a little perspective to be reminded what’s important. And nothing adds perspective like getting out of the New York area for a few days and visiting one of the most beautiful spots on Earth.

I’m writing this while overlooking the bright turquoise water of Grace Bay in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos. It’s consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and I have no reason to argue the point.

About a mile out from shore, the calm glimmer is broken up by a line of breaking waves that runs the length of this side of the island. The break is caused by one of the largest living coral reefs in this hemisphere. For many, it is the sole reason for coming here as it offers some of the most exquisite snorkeling and fishing within a few hours of the U.S.

Hundreds of species of fish, turtles, birds and other sea life breed here on government-protected swaths of sea and land. As a biological hot spot, it is practically irreplaceable.

There are thousands of small spots like this all over the world: separated by the hustle and bustle of modern society and man-made infrastructure, existing in a state that nature intended and humans haven’t managed to overrun yet. And it would be a crime to think of a place like this otherwise.

Unfortunately, these remote spots aren’t as remote anymore. The hum of cranes is ever-present during the day here, and construction is probably catching up to tourism as the center of the island’s economy. The inevitable sprawl of humanity’s ever-growing population is reaching the shores here, and the island is girding itself for an influx of new vacationers and part-time residents.

This is not an inherently bad thing. The island’s population needs a robust economy to make it possible to continue living, and thriving, in this slice of paradise. But, as with everything, there has to be a balance. Once development becomes overdevelopment, the very features that attract people to vacation here are threatened — by pollution, by noise, by the isolation of protected spots between large structures of condos and hotels.

The technology industry has fueled a good part of the world’s most robust economy in much of the last century, as well as this one. Good jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities are the hallmark of this business sector. But, as with everything, there has to be a balance.

Billions of technology devices have turned obsolete, to be replaced by better, faster, more efficient models, and each of those devices had to end up somewhere. For a long time that meant a landfill or a dump somewhere. But, thanks to a concerted effort by many of the industry’s best and brightest, that is not always the case anymore.

Recycling efforts have improved drastically. “Reduce, reuse, recycle” is no longer a quaint slogan but a mantra. Energy efficiency is at an all-time high, and consumers are demanding greener products. Want proof? Ask Tesla, which is not only disrupting the auto industry but creating a template for responsible and efficient use of technology as a profit driver.

In this issue we take a look at industry efforts to police ourselves and leave the world a little better than when we got here. It is a trend that is welcome and growing rapidly, and as I look out over the turquoise water, absolutely essential.