Top 10 Environmental Problems That Are Also Business Opportunities

One of the most amazing things about the People’s Climate March on Sept. 21st was what it looks like to march with over 310,000 people down Avenue of the Americas in New York City about how fed up we are over how little we are doing about our climate in crisis.
While the March was intended to wake up government from all over the world, Government will not be the solution to this problem.  They are a distraction.  They are a way for us to take our eye off the ball of what must be done, and done immediately.
Instead, it will be the entrepreneurs that fix this.  Real change will happen because entrepreneurs will continue to find really, really cool ways restore our planet and communities.  Not government.

A few years ago, I had a really deep conversation with someone who was a student at CERC, the school where I teach at Columbia University.

He asked, “Professor Doering, do you think we are going to be able to stop destroying ourselves and the planet before it is too late?”

I hesitated on my knee-jerk answer and thought about it for a minute. When I was his age, perhaps early 20’s, I felt 100% positive the answer was “Yes, of course!” Now, twenty years later, I still want the answer to be the same, yet feel more like Al Gore’s response, which is “Yes, but only if…”

Only if we UnReasonably shift our thinking and being, as individuals, a community and a species.

For example, we as “modern humans” are about 200,000 years old. In the early 1800’s, or about 199,800 of the way into our modern existence, we got to our first billion in population.

Here’s the difficult part to comprehend: since 1964, the year I was born, the population has more than doubled to 6.65 billion people. And over the next 10 years we will be adding an additional billion people to the planet!

So it is quite understandable the planet is struggling trying to keep up with sufficient resources in food, water and energy with our population growing so rapidly.

What can you and I do about this?

I firmly believe, and teach students and clients, the fastest way to not only stop this trajectory of our planet, but actually revive it is to show people how to make money doing this.

And it is you… the entrepreneur / intrapreneur (entrepreneur in a large corporation) that will be at the forefront of making this UnReasonable transition in our thinking to a sustainable existence.

Environmental Problems That Are Also Business Opportunities

1.       Climate Change—with the planet heating up and ice caps melting due to carbon emissions, there are serious opportunities for “carbon offsets”. Entire financial models and markets are being developed and implemented in Europe and now the US around this issue along with a whole movement towards making lower-impact products and services in virtually every industry imaginable: manufacturing, construction, transportation, energy, etc.

2.       Energy—oil will not be able to accommodate the growth in energy for more than another 2-15 years or so before there will not be enough to go around. There are humongous opportunities for energy consulting, auditing, alternative energy products and services, industrial design and manufacturing, and so on.

3.       Water—according to WorldOMeters over 1.3 billion people worldwide currently do not have access to drinkable water. And the US is not immune as it has become a major issue in our drier states. Product design, consulting and monitoring resources are just a few of the many, many opportunities available in water management.

4.       Biodiversity and Land Use—when huge tracks of rainforest, the home of many, many species of plants and animals are burned down to grow one crop (i.e. soy, corn, wheat, rice, etc.) or raise one animal (i.e. cattle), we are loosing major important planetary resources. Many opportunities, ranging from medicinal horticulture to eco-tourism, are available all over the world.

5.       Chemicals, Toxics, and Heavy Metals—according to WorldOMeters for the first 30 days of 2008, the world’s industries have dumped over 772,000 tons of pollutants into the air, water and land. Any products and services related to the reduction of dumping these chemicals are being looked at by many private and public sectors world wide. One of the fastest growing markets in the US is the organics food industry.

6.       Air Pollution—according to the World Bank, it is estimated 800,000 people die prematurely every year from illnesses caused by outdoor air pollution worldwide. There are many opportunities to improve air quality controls through products and services, emissions testing, auditing, consulting, air filters, and so on.

7.       Waste Management—according to Zero Waste America, each American disposed almost 10 tons of waste in 2001. There are huge opportunities in designing and implementing reusable products, shipping and packaging and take-out containers, consulting, education, art from found objects, and on and on.

8.       Ozone Layer Depletion—known as our natural sun screen, it limits ultraviolet (UV) radiation to levels necessary for life on earth. With the ozone layers on the polar caps disappearing since first discovered in 1979, opportunities abound in the health sector, specifically those addressing issues with skin cancer, cataracts and immune systems as well as marine biology.

9.       Forest and Fisheries—with approximately 70% of the world’s major marine fisheries depleted, major opportunities arise in food manufacturing, education, biology, vegetarian products and services, alternative farming practices, environmental non-profits and so on.

10.   Deforestation— according to WorldOMeters in the first four weeks of 2008, almost 2.25 million acres of forest have been destroyed, contributing to the almost 1.2 million acres of new desert formed. There are major opportunities available in eco-tourism, land management and top soil containment as well as all-natural/organic landscaping, farming practices, education, and on and on.

Perhaps you can start to see that this is the new direction of business. And there is absolutely no shortage of new and profitable products and services that will help the planet recover.

In fact the only shortage we have had has been in our limited way of thinking and lack of commitment towards our planet.

So let’s listen to Einstein and start applying our UnReasonable thinking.  By doing so mankind will not only survive, but we will thrive.

Action Steps for the Week

If there was ever a time to really think through the impact your business or career is having on the planet, that time is now.

Take a look. Look to see which of these Top 10 Environmental Issues you feel most passionate about and make the choice to shift your practices in your business or the corporation you work for.

This takes Being UnReasonable in your creativity, innovation and intentions to make it happen. Come up with a game plan, run it past some colleagues for feedback and build your team to get it started.

Stuck? Confused? Want feedback?
E-mail me and we’ll set up a time to speak… to discuss your options in getting this handled… now!:

I’m not kidding… take me up on my offer to help you nail this. No cost, no strings. I’d just love meeting you.

Don’t be shy. In business you’re dead in the water if you’re shy.

All I ask is you be nice with a warm “hello” and respect our time and you’ll get 30 minutes of mine.

Share the Love Campaign

If you find your weekly Power Boost on BEST Coaches is something that helps you cope with the trials and tribulations of life in business, it makes good business sense to forward this to others… as many as you can find.

According to Tim Sanders in his great book, Love is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends, the 21st Century of success will come from three things: your knowledge, network of contacts, and compassion.

And by sharing this article and encouraging others to sign up for our newsletter, you are sharing your knowledge, connecting with your network and building your compassion with them.

Share below with a friend if this article was of value to you!