How to Change the World–By Making a Profit

Al Gore and David Blood have an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today on the topic of sustainability and accounting for environmental costs as part of good business practice, according to Environmental Economics.

Unfortunately, the op-ed itself is safely locked away from public view behind a firewall, but we can glean some idea of the intent from this press release from November 2004, when Gore and Blood (jeez, what a pair of names) launched a new investment fund.

The fund is called Generation Investment Management, and it has set out to "fully integrate sustainability research into its fundamental equity analysis."

Blood turns out to be a former vice-president at Goldman Sachs, the astoundingly successful Wall St. corporate finance firm. In the release, he declares that:

Sustainability combines the principles of economic growth, environmental stewardship, and social accountability.

This has always been central to Gore’s brand of environmentalism. Starry-eyed dreamers may recall that back in the 2000 presidential campaign, Gore stumped around the country insisting that green investments would lead to numerous profit-making opportunites…much like General Electric’s new "ecoimagination" campaign. At about this time last year, GE announced they were investing $1.5 billion in the effort, which was lauded by the likes of Treehugger.

GE is far from alone. As Oikos (an environmental economics blog in Australia) points out, Zengrong Shi of China has in just a few short years has become one of the world’s richest men…selling photovoltaics.

As Forbes puts it in a profile about the newly-coined billionaire:

Photovoltaics vendor Zhengrong Shi is worth only $2.2 billion. If he could just make solar power cost-effective, he could be really rich.

Calls to save the biosphere have not proven very effective when it comes to changing human behavior, and warnings of calamity (such as Rachel Carson’s "Silent Spring") have been only slightly more successful.

Maybe Gore is right. Maybe it takes a money-making opportunity to open peoples’ eyes.

 

 

One thought on “How to Change the World–By Making a Profit

  1. Maybe Gore is right. Maybe it takes a money-making opportunity to open peoples’ eyes.

    Or a money-losing prospect. Either way.

    Best,

    D

    Like

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