Thoughts on GLOBE 2016
By Jamal Al-Bayaa, Staff Writer
GLOBE 2016 was an opportunity for business leaders to gather, educate, and create awareness about the state of our planet in the hopes that serious strategies targeting climate change’s top issues would be made. If the intention of GLOBE 2016 was to treat climate change as a serious threat that required actions, discussions, and sacrifice, that was not what was presented by the speakers.
Presentation buzzwords throughout the event included: energy, innovation, economy, and efficiency. Climate change was referred to as a “business opportunity” numerous times. The idea behind GLOBE 2016 was that with climate change comes a demand for new energy technology, and it’s the jobs of the people in those rooms to profit off of them. GLOBE 2016 was a way for business leaders to come together and showcase their new business plans, marketed with words like “responsible,” and “sustainable,” in a dual effort of increasing profits and improving brand image.
Sure, environmental concern is a major issue, but it’s been a major issue for almost 40 years now. The only difference now is that it’s a profitable issue as well.
The turn of the century has placed the environmental movement into the hands of the corporations that the public is often blaming for the major environmental problems. Even oil corporations are looking for new markets to sell renewable energy to.
Is this the best that GLOBE 2016 has to offer, though? Is the message to the people going to be that once perfectly clean energy is available for us, there’s going to be a major premium involved for anybody who wants to use it?
All criticisms aside, the profit mentality has brought incredible innovations that can’t be ignored.
XPrize is currently encouraging teams of scientists from around the world to collaborate and compete on a project that is capable of sucking carbon directly out of the atmosphere and turning that carbon into a resalable product, most likely as fuel to be burned and released back into the atmosphere. Whoever successfully completes the project will win a $20-million cash prize and have a long future full of research funding ahead of them. In 2004, the same company awarded a $10-million cash prize to the team of scientists who were able to successfully launch a spacecraft into space twice in two weeks. The invention shook the world, as private space travel is now a $2-billion industry.
Enterra, a local company from Langley, BC, is doing work that’s less glamorous but equally important and rewarding. They’re currently running a sustainable bug-farm, growing black soldier fly larvae and using them to create organic fertilizer and natural and nutritious farm feed for livestock, both of which are desperately in demand with our increased need for agriculture.
Many say that the real ideological innovation won’t come until we grow those bugs for human use, too. The United Nations says that the benefits of eating bugs are so great (to ourselves and to our planet) that the two billion people globally who do eat bugs need to convert the other five billion into doing it, immediately.
Sustainable business is good. It allows us to slowly and steadily improve the way we treat our environment.
Still, there are some things that should be considered when combining business and environmentalism. Technologies and ideas that promoted increased consumption in consumers were common themes at GLOBE 2016. Any discussion of reducing the amount of products we consume each day were clearly rejected at the proposal phase. The cycle of businesses promoting over-consumption got us into this mess of environmental debt, so why are we allowing the same strategy to be what gets us out of it?
As of March 2016, the fate of the planet rests in the hands of businesses willing to do as much as possible to prevent climate change—so long as profits stay steady.