Climate change economics have shifted practices in every industry, perhaps most notably in insurance, agriculture and the military. For the first time, most Americans are experiencing the kind of extreme weather that my classmate saw in subtropical Florida. Now, the ethics component is gaining widespread public acceptance too.
Dealing with resource scarcity will compel companies to adopt new technologies, new manufacturing processes, and new management practices -- all of which will drive innovation faster and faster. As the global middle class expands, there will be massive opportunities for entrepreneurs to create more efficient industries and more productive business ecosystems. Technologies and industries will collide in new and unexpected ways, and these entrepreneurial mashups, inspired in part by scarcity, will potentially produce greater utility and prosperity for society at large.
A recent bill up before the Hawai'i County Council would have criminalized Big Island farmers for using biotechnology to grow their crops with less fertilizer and fewer pesticides. A second bill is still on the table, and I almost cannot think of anything that would take us further away from where we need to be heading.
There are a lot of disagreements about whether we have reached peak oil or when the downhill slope will hit a point that brings a significant percentage of our vehicles to a grinding halt, but the concept has made scientists and policy makers ask the question: What other critical resources may be peaking?