Mother Earth is the ultimate customer
This article appeared in Business India, July 16-29, 2018.
The industrial system – what we make, buy, and use – sits within a larger system of nature. This industrial system includes, amongst others, a wide range of products such as automobiles, TVs, laptops, mobiles, buildings, power plants, and so on.
The natural world includes living regenerative resources, such as forests, croplands, and fisheries. These regenerative resources can sustain human activities indefinitely, provided we do not harvest them more than their ability to regenerate themselves.
This same natural world also includes non-regenerative resources, such as oil, coal, and minerals. The non-regenerative resources can only be depleted or extracted. Since they cannot be replenished, many start to run out. Nations that own non-regenerative resources have muscle power. Think OPEC.
In the process of extracting non-regenerative resources and harvesting regenerative resources for producing goods, as well as using goods, the industrial system generates waste. Even discarding waste generates waste! Over production and waste damage the natural systems. Think of the mountains of COPQ (Cost Of Poor Quality).
The industrial system also sits within a larger social system of communities, families, schools, and culture. Over production and waste cause inequality, anxiety and stress in our societies.
Industries are driven by expansion of production and employment. And for the past half century, growing consumption. This consumption includes tangible consumer goods such as smart phones and jeans; and services such as air travel and music / movie / book downloads. Both categories are produced by companies using their capital equipment and facilities.
We have only focused on the system within a system. I call this Business Myopia.
Concern for the health of the larger social and ecological system within which the industrial system sits has been confined largely to the back page, even though the public concern has been growing for more than a generation.
In conclusion, we need the best brains in India to come together to examine whether, and if so at what social cost, there are any other paths to economic progress that are less energy-intensive, less polluting, and with less impact on Earth’s climate stability. QED.
Mother Earth is the Ultimate Customer. We all know the consequences of Customer Rebellion.FOLLOW ME