Moi Goes to Washington

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Moi Goes to Washington is an article written by environmental author Joe Kane. He has written several books and articles focused on environmental issues around the world. Kane is an outspoken proponent of environmental and natural resource protection. He is perhaps best known for his two books Running the Amazon and Savages. In Running the Amazon Kane tells the story of his six month 4,200 mile expedition from the head waters of the Amazon River in Peru to its outlet in the Atlantic Ocean. Savages give an account of the native people of the Peruvian Amazon, the Huaorani. In this work Kane tells of how he lived among the Huaorani people and learned firsthand of the destruction and contamination of the native peoples’ land by international oil companies. Kane has also contributed several articles to National Geographic and The New Yorker Magazines.

In Moi Goes to Washington Joe Kane tells the story of Moi, a member of the Huaorani people, who made a trip from Ecuador to Washington D.C. with the intention of persuading the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, to investigate the exploitation of his peoples’ land and resources by international oil companies. Attorneys for the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund brought Moi to Washington D.C. hoping the commission would hear his testimony and feel compelled to attempt to help the Huaorani people. Moi was able to convince the commission to investigate if they received an invitation from the Ecuadorian Government to do so. Although the commission eventually received approval from the Ecuadorian ambassador, the Ecuadorian government ended up claiming that there was a misunderstanding, and the commission was not formally invited to investigate.

Moi Goes to Washington was published in The New Yorker magazine in May of 1994. The Environmental Protection Act was passed in that same year. This act, of course, only helped regulate and clarify environmental protection laws in the U.S.

Kane’s article was written in the U.S., likely in Oakland, California, where Joe Kane was living at the time. Several works about water pollution, global warming, wildlife conservation and many other environmental and business topics were written in the U.S. throughout the 1990s. Just a few include The Carbon War: Global Warming and the End of the Oil Era (1999) by Jeremy Leggett, A Civil Action (1996) by Jonathan Harr, and Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit (1992) by Al Gore.

The issues this article reveals are very relevant to the study of modern business. Kane’s account shows an ugly reality of modern business: that it isn’t always done ethically, or without victims. Businesses have the option to act ethically, or unethically. They can choose to be mindful of their impact on the environment, or unmindful. I think it’s fair to say that some businesses have environmental concerns near the bottom of their list of priorities. Although, it’s important to note that since this article was written, businesses have become increasingly more aware of the need to be more environmentally friendly.

It is important for business students to understand the environmental and ethical impacts that most businesses have, some more than others. Joe Kane’s account shows that business leaders will at times choose to essentially ignore ethics or environmental concerns in order to make a profit. However, gaining profit unethically and at the expense of the environment and those who it sustains, can have repercussions. A negative public image can destroy a business. Consumers are increasingly conscious of companies’ environmental actions. They might be willing to take their business elsewhere when they find out that their favorite gas station is supplied by oil companies that are destroying the Amazon and its people.

This article is an eye opener when it comes to the negative impact oil companies can have on the area they are drilling, and the lack of integrity and responsibility these companies may have. It is fair to say that many other companies around the world are having similar negative impacts on the environment and people where they operate. It’s sad that these companies are willing to, in a way, sweep innocent people under the rug and go on doing business without changing the destructive way they are doing things. If there is going to be anything left for future generation to produce or harvest or create, current business students need to consider environmental consciousness, as well as business ethics in general, as essential parts of a successful business.

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