We all must go Beyond Petroleum, not just BP
Finally BP seem to be getting a grip, quite literally, on the source of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. But with its stock value plunging by a third, the threat of multi-billion pound clean up operation and talk of criminal charges, the company must be wishing that they’d lived up to their ill-fated “Beyond Petroleum” slogan from the turn of the millennium.
For the question remains, what on earth were they doing drilling almost a mile below the waves, anyway? Why, for that matter, are vast tracts of Canadian sands being dug up and squeezed for a few drops of oil? Is it because oil is becoming an increasingly scarce resource? Is this peak oil writ large?
And let’s not forget climate change. I always say that in any environmental debate the laws of physics always win. And so, despite the relative disappointment of Copenhagen, the fuss of the UEA e-mail leak and a single rogue statement on glaciers in an IPCC report, the world keeps warming. In fact, the 12 months to April 2010 were the warmest 12 months as far back as we can reliably measure. This puts paid to all the nonsense talk of global cooling in the ‘denialosphere’ and puts carbon cuts back on the urgent section of the to do list.
The answer is obvious. We’ve got to wean ourselves off fossil fuels and onto clean, safe and reliable renewable energy. This will require efficiencies to deliver, and a whole new way of thinking about energy: smart grids, anaerobic digestion of organic wastes, wind farms, solar energy, and whole new ways of living and working: teleworking, teleconferencing, buying quality rather than quantity, buying services rather than ‘stuff’.
There is a growing belief that business should not only respond to this agenda, but drive it forward. The opportunities for innovation are immense: new products, new services, new technologies, new business models. Those that grasp this will prosper, those that cling to the old certainties will flounder. It’s decision time.