In Natural Capitalism,
three top strategists show how leading-edge companies are practicing "a new type of industrialism" that is more efficient and profitable while saving the environment and creating jobs. Paul Hawken and Amory and Hunter Lovins write that in the next century, cars will get 200 miles per gallon without compromising safety and power, manufacturers will relentlessly recycle their products, and the world's standard of living will jump without further damaging natural resources. "Is this the vision of a utopia? In fact, the changes described here could come about in the decades to come as the result of economic and technological trends already in place," the authors write.
They call their approach natural capitalism because it's based on the principle that business can be good for the environment. For instance, Interface of Atlanta doubled revenues and employment and tripled profits by creating an environmentally friendly system of recycling floor coverings for businesses. The authors also describe how the next generation of cars is closer than we might think. Manufacturers are already perfecting vehicles that are ultralight, aerodynamic, and fueled by hybrid gas-electric systems. If natural capitalism continues to blossom, so much money and resources will be saved that societies will be able to focus on issues such as housing, contend Hawken, author of a book and PBS series called Growing a Business, and the Lovinses, who cofounded and directed the Rocky Mountain Institute, an environmental think tank. The book is a fascinating and provocative read for public-policy makers, as well as environmentalists and capitalists alike. --Dan Ring
From Publishers Weekly
Hawken (The Ecology of Commerce) and Amory and Hunter Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, an environmental think tank, have put together an ambitious, visionary monster of a book advocating "natural capitalism." The short answer to the logical question (What is natural capitalism?) is that it is a way of thinking that seeks to apply market principles to all sources of material value, most importantly natural resources. The authors have two related goals: first, to show the vast array of ecologically smart options available to businesses; second, to argue that it is possible for society and industry to adopt them. Hawken and the Lovinses acknowledge such barriers as the high initial costs of some techniques, lack of knowledge of alternatives, entrenched ways of thinking and other cultural factors. In looking at options for transportation (including the development of ultralight, electricity-powered automobiles), energy use, building design, and waste reduction and disposal, the book's reach is phenomenal. It belongs to the galvanizing tradition of Frances Moore Lapp?'s Diet for a Small Planet and Stewart Brand's The Whole Earth Catalog. Whether all that the authors have organized and presented so earnestly here can be assimilated and acted on by the people who run the world is open to question. But readers with a capacity for judicious browsing and grazing can surely learn enough in these pages to apply well-reasoned pressure. Charts and graphs, with accompanying CD-ROM. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.