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The Future of Business: Innovation and Sustainability

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phiscal Avatar
phiscal
Posted: 01.11.10, 09:49 PM
Several observations: The sustainability movement needs to build a case that is, well, more sustainable. It needs to build a scientific and economic case that can withstand valid criticism. It is not there yet. Further, it needs to shed its “Phoebe Buffay” image. This will be a challenge. Third, most “sustainability” work will get done without a neo-Malthusian movement. Shortages that arise from “unsustainable” practices drive up prices which stimulate substitutes. Fourth, I'll assert that the developed world is entering a period of extended relative poverty – thanks to aging demographics. Frugal people will consume less – reducing the benefit produced by “sustainability” missionaries. Fifth, if global warming doesn't occur as forecast, the virtue of extra-cost solar power electricity pumped into an extra-cost smart grid to power an extra-cost electric car may not be entirely apparent to someone who's having trouble making the rent. Popular support will suffer. Sixth, sustainability folks seem willing to seek tools of government coercion to force compliance with their vision. Seventh, “sustainability” can indeed be a valuable addition to a marketing campaign; probably moreso if the west prospers, less so if it does not. On balance, the romanticism of the movement is heartwarming. However, it appears on track to repeat the rhetorical excesses and strategic mistakes of the general environmental movement. Despite its successes, it has disappointed itself and alienated many unnecessarily. Sustainability missionaries appear poised to do the same.
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