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by Aman Singh Das | September 17, 2009


George Nassos, Associate Industry Professor and Director of the Sustainability Program at Stuart School of Business told us two weeks ago at the CSR Practitioner workshop what would happen to our world in the next two decades. Yeah, he told us. He didn't predict, he didn't philosophize, he told us. With pictures, like kids are taught basic things like "This is an apple. It is red."

Using pictures of the earth, he said if we continued following the lifestyle we have been for years--and with India and China catching up quickly with the western world in higher standards of living leading to higher consumption of energy and consumables--then by 2030, we would be consuming twice of what the earth is capable of delivering. By 2050, this would increase to 2.5 earths worth. If India and China increase their pace of industrialization and progress, by 2050, instead of consuming two-and-a-half times what the earth can deliver, we would be munching on what only 9 earths can deliver!

Oh and if you are wondering where we are right now, the figure is: 1.35 as of 2007. So in simple terms, if we continue not paying attention to renewable energy, carbon consumption and don't join the few companies and organizations that are beginning to, we will reach a point where we will stop growing. And then the decline will begin, until the earth is back to being sustainable.

No wonder then that yesterday Thomas Friedman, our in-your-face opinionater at The Times, wrote about his visit to Applied Materials offices in Silicon Valley and came back nonplussed with all the invention happening in the solar panel industry in America but all the advantage of the technology being used outside America. I give you a quote that drives the point home:

"O.K., so you don’t believe global warming is real. I do, but let’s assume it’s not. Here is what is indisputable: The world is on track to add another 2.5 billion people by 2050, and many will be aspiring to live American-like, high-energy lifestyles. In such a world, renewable energy — where the variable cost of your fuel, sun or wind, is zero — will be in huge demand. China now understands that. It no longer believes it can pollute its way to prosperity because it would choke to death. That is the most important shift in the world in the last 18 months. China has decided that clean-tech is going to be the next great global industry and is now creating a massive domestic market for solar and wind, which will give it a great export platform. In October, Applied will be opening the world’s largest solar research center — in Xian, China. Gotta go where the customers are. So, if you like importing oil from Saudi Arabia, you’re going to love importing solar panels from China."

What this means is that as China picks up its clean tech initiatives, job growth, a better lifestyle, life longevity, all will begin to immigrate to Asia. Where the jobs and the promise of a better life are, civilization will follow. The American dream then will become the Asian Dream. Can we fathom that?

To read Thomas Friedman's article, click here.

Associated Press/Jack Dempsey


Filed Under: CSR