The Business of Global Greening

Imagine a massive piece of glacial ice bigger than the area of Manhattan Island (61 sq km) breaking off from its main ice shelf and crashing down into the sea. This exact event occurred recently in Canada’s far north and it remains to be seen next summer whether shipping lanes or oil-drilling regions will be adversely affected. Scientists can’t say for certain that this break was a direct result of global warming. However, the vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is occurring mainly because of people’s behaviour and not the result of the natural evolution of the earth’s climate.

So, how are environmental issues different today from the same issues of say, 30 years ago when new buzz words such as, “the ozone layer” and “carbon dioxide emissions” became so popular? Environmental concerns were voiced by members of the hippie movement in the 1960s and early 70s. Then there was the oil crisis in the late 1970s. But this time, it is proving to be quite a different matter.

The business buy-in

In the past years, business awareness of environmental issues usually occurred when oil prices peaked, or when there was more disturbing news about global warming, harmful chemicals or the limited supply of the earth’s resources. Any effort concerning the environment was done mainly to take care of the bottom line or to appease environmentalists. Usually, a company’s main reaction was to fight back or, in the event of an impending loss, regain a positive PR profile. Today, most companies are voluntarily choosing to become more environmentally proactive.

What has been the impetus for this new business revolution? Simply put: technology and tenacity. Businesses now understand that today’s sophisticated technology has enabled them to save the world and make money at the same time. As Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of GE and a new convert, is fond of saying, “Green is green.” Added to this mix are tenacious, demanding consumers and creative entrepreneurs with the result of a green business renaissance.

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