Climate Change – Good For Business?
Very interesting article on Sustainable Brands, “Climate Change – Good For Business” by John Friedman.
Friedman cites Richard Branson on the opportunties in the environmental field:
“I have described the increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as one of the greatest threats to the ongoing prosperity and sustainability of life on the planet,” he says. “The good news is that creating businesses that will power our growth, and reduce our carbon output while protecting resources is also the greatest wealth-generating opportunity of our generation.”
And I agree. I have profiled many entrepreneurs over the years who are succeeding with creative green businesses. In many cases, they are creating whole new market sectors—such as an entrepreneur who saves water by selling a spray fluid that largely neutralizes the odor and stain of urine, thus substantially reducing a family’s need to flush.
What is perhaps most interesting about the Friedman article is his historical perspective of energy and transportation not only as wealth-generators, but as environmental problem-solvers for their time:
A high percentage of the wealthiest people in history – excluding despots and conquerors – have made their fortunes in the areas of energy, transportation and construction. The Rockefeller fortune was based on oil (energy), Andrew Carnegie (steel), Cornelius Vanderbilt saw the revolution from wind to steam engines and built an empire in shipping and railroads. Henry Ford took the automobile from the purview of the wealthy to a staple of the average American household by increasing production efficiency, thereby reducing costs for consumers and creating an entire industry that was much of the basis for the American economy for decades…
Indeed many of these changes in industry and transportation have followed the evolution from individual power (feet or paddles), to animal power (horses and horses and buggies) to steam (initially powered in the U.S. by wood and then coal) and finally to internal combustion and electricity. It is important to note that in addition to increasing speed and efficiency, many of these changes were furthered by the desire for more environmentally friendly alternatives [emphasis added]; streetcars and buses in New York were seen as a solution to the manure that was lining the city streets.
Of course, there’s an obvious caution here. The message from the past, viewed through the lens of 2012 and catastrophic climate change, is that sometimes, solutions to old problems cause greater problems. This is a principle that must inform us as we go forward, to avoid blundering into even worse situations as we fix the urgent problems we face.
The good news: we know a lot more about what works and what doesn’t. For instance, we already know that nuclear power is not a solution to climate change and has enormous catastrophic potential. We know that fracking to drill for natural gas not only pollutes water but probably causes earthquakes.
And we also know that we have to be careful to develop solar, wind, hydro, tidal, magnetic, and other clean, renewable energy sources in ways that are both environmentally and economically sustainable.
This is our mission, our duty, our responsibility. Let’s get it done—the right way.