The Fast 50

In the new trend of cover stories on the greening of the world, Fast Company has this week’s cover story on the Fast 50, companies and individuals making a difference inFC fast50 the greening of the world but with a market-based or profit driven model.

Check out the list (as mentioned on the magazine, it is a list not a ranking) for some of the people and companies making a difference. The best part is the editorial and lead article for the cover story by Andrew Zolli called Business 3.0.

Mark Vomas, editor of Fast Company says in his letter; Greed, in All Its Greatness; that:

We have come to understand is that some problems are simply too big to be solved except by all of us. And that’s where the genius of the market comes in. Planetary troubles like climate change, food insecurity, resource scarcity, and disease represent the challenges of our generation, and of many to come. But for a lot of smart, ambitious people, they also represent the profit making opportunity of a lifetime.

I don’t mean to get all smiley-faced about this. Our challenges remain daunting, and the solutions themselves are sometimes problematic in this interlocking world.

Still, this year’s Fast 50 gives hope even to a cynic like me. If our fate hinges on mankind’s noble impulses, we are all doomed. With greed, on the other hand, good things are possible.

Clearly, this is a big thumbs up to market driven solutions. One big player in this game is the government represented by Arnold Scwarzenegger whose bold plays will create a market for entrepreneurial markets to bloom.

Andrew Zolli writes a great lead story.

As if on cue, however, a suite of new global forces is emerging that will remake the operating environment for global capitalism, obliterate the walls–and the distinctions–between the Friedmanesque Hatfields and the Naderesque McCoys, and inject a “greed is good” mentality into our approach to grand social problems. The clinical, value-neutral capitalism of old is about to follow the recently departed Friedman to the grave.

There are several reasons why this is so, but the first should be obvious to any but the most hardened anti-environmental skeptic: If we don’t do something soon, we’re screwed. A quick (and necessarily depressing) look at the numbers suggests that supplies of our most basic commodities–potable water, fossil fuels, arable land, clean air–as well as critical industrial commodities such as aluminum, steel, and even silicon, are all under stress.

Water provides a typical example: By 2030, more than one in three human beings will not have enough to drink, or will run the risk of dying by drinking what they’ve got. Resource scarcity is going to be a front-page business issue as well, affecting industries from transportation to electronics. According to estimates by the International Institute for Environment and Development, at today’s levels of production, there may be only another 28 years’ worth of copper in the ground, another 21 years’ worth of lead, a 17-year supply of silver, and 37 years’ worth of tin.

Yet despite our precarious position, global catastrophe is by no means a foregone conclusion. Well ahead of slower-moving governments, companies of every size and in every part of the world are now waking up to humanity’s impending and interlocking crises, and the vastly lucrative rewards that solving them might bring. If humanity has a future, it will rest significantly on these companies and entrepreneurs’ ability to create and globally distribute civilization-saving innovations.

As with the Industrial and Information Revolutions before them, the protagonists in the “Eco-Innovation” Revolution will take the field with new approaches, ideas, and technologies that will upend our notions of production, consumption, wealth, and invention. Our current economic system was devised in an era in which labor was scarce and natural resources were abundant. We’re moving into an era in which the opposite is true, and that’s going to change capitalism’s playbook for good.

As I think more about this issue and discuss with people here, I realize that how the experience I have gained, the learning in the MBA, my current job, my current reading and writing in the sustainability field all herald a great future in this area.

The companies and individuals who are in the beginning of this new and exciting Green Wave have a great future ahead and all the while helping the planet. To Business 3.0.

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One thought on “The Fast 50

  1. Pingback: World is Green The Germinator «

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