Seeing beyond ourselves and acting

Staff writer
November 23, 2012 01:00 AM


Recently, I had the pleasure of presenting "Pursuing tomorrow's business today" at UBC's Sauder School of Business. The underlining theme was the need to think differently, see the bigger picture and be innovative.

Thinking differently focused on the definition of insanity, wherein one keeps behaving the same while expecting different results. We cannot continue business as usual given the impact we are having on our life support systems. This applies to business and government.

For the bigger picture, I discussed how electric vehicles are misleadingly marketed as a silver bullet for our transportation needs. Many electric vehicle manufacturers claim zero greenhouse emissions by their cars. This is true if we ignore the emissions generated through resource extraction, manufacturing, distribution, disposal and how they are recharged.

If all of the more than two million vehicles in B.C. switched to electric, we would require an additional annual production of 10 GWh. This is more than twice the proposed production capacity of Site C dam, and charging these vehicles would still generate anywhere from 200 million for hydropower to 1.6 billion kg for coal fired power of GHGs annually. Electric vehicles are a Band-Aid solution. We need to look under the hood to drive results.

Finally, innovation was introduced by tying it into rethinking. An area roughly the size of B.C. in the Pacific Ocean is filled with plastic. Some spots contain a 10:1 ratio of plastic to plankton. This serious pollution problem impacts the food chain and kills marine organisms. By rethinking, businesses see the plastic as a resource and developed processes for collecting and converting it into packaging for their products. This is done profitably while benefiting society and the environment. We need business cases that fix problems.

Our future depends on learning how to benefit with nature.

Erich V. Schwartz, Gibsons

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