Authors: Michael Lenox andAaron Chatterji

Publisher: Stanford Business Books,

ISBN: 978-0-80479-099-4

The authors of Can Business Save The Earth tell that it took several years to compile their data and write the end result. (2018, preface) They also acknowledge the aid of several key people in the finalization of this process.

Chapter one opens with “The earth is in trouble…The threat is likely to unfold slowly, but once it gains momentum, it might be impossible to stop. The impact could be enormous…”. (2018, p.1) Next, they pose the question of who or what might be able to reverse this scenario to which they add that because there is so much disagreement amongst our lawmakers on this topic that only exacerbates how to approach a tenable salvable solution.

Is it plausible that business might be the key?

Supporting research can be found within our military according to the authors who say that “…the military has been one of the strongest voices about the risks of climate change in the United States.” (2018, p.10) They further point to a particular research paper created in 2015 on this topic where our military designates the risks of not acting.

Another document that they (the authors) quote comes from the international Union for Conservation of Nature which outlines the various extinction rates of certain species including our coral reefs. Their statistics are scary if correct.

In Chapter two they speak about Mark Herrema, founder of Newlight Technologies, whom they say is a “classic innovator”. (2018, p.30) “He did not wait for government policy or big business to solve the unmet need… He did it himself.” Herremas’ company breakthrough hinged on biocatalysts. He introduced polymers “…which yielded nine times more material for the same input as previous biocatalysts.” (p.31) This measure was intended to create a carbon negative footprint. Eventually, Newlight teamed up with IKEA (2016) in production of their AirCarbon thermoplastic for home furnishings. And next DELL computers, the Body Shop, and Sprint jumped on Newlight’s bandwagon.

Education must target children at younger and younger ages and teach them the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) if we hope to keep the innovation and technology train chugging along. “…investment in public education can be a critical lever to advance sustainable innovation.” (2018, p.52) However, this is not simply a challenge for public educational facilities, but also private ones. There are also programs available from public and private sources that fund contests and competitions targeted at helping students to imagine and implement sustainable ideas for business. These cash prizes and grants can create industry networking opportunities that can spur new business ventures.

A wonderful example of what can be achieved if one puts their mind to it is the numerous successes of Elon Musk. The authors chronicle his spiral upward. (2018, paraphrase, pgs.61-2) Originally from South Africa he began his formal secondary educational pursuit in Canada and then the USA. Instead of grad school he stated a company by the name of Zip2. It was a software company that produced city guides. Compaq bought them for three hundred and seven million dollars ($307M). That gave Elon more steam. He co-founded another organization called which later became PayPal. Viola! And now he is the founding member of SpaceX.

With all that has occurred to change the dynamics of the world perhaps the authors are right to believe that this problem with climate change must be addressed by all of the world participants in order to be met with success. No doubt that bright minds and fresh ideas can help move society forward.

I learned a lot while reading this book and it also gave me a new perspective on what can be achieved if we continue to dream and believe. Read it, learn from it.