The Commercial Potential of Rebuilding the World

Consider this thought experiment:

Imagine you’re in an office in a city somewhere in the real world. You walk out into the street and look around. You see buildings and landscapes, going and coming, transportation from bikes to rail to trucks, people with bags, boxes and briefcases, and everywhere everything is flowing. You see shops and offices full of supplies, electronics, food and drink, clothing and fashion, hardware and software. And there are towers, poles, wires, pipes, tunnels, joints and bridges, signal lights, valves and switches, all connecting and coordinating the flow. And you open your senses and see radio and the shimmering patterns of information connecting and coordinating the coordination of…. everything.

Now consider this, the bulk of those objects, signals, people and packages were designed, engineered, manufactured and built to one economic end – increase resource consumption – make it and throw away, waste and do not return.

Now, let the world shift. Allow the visible and invisible, tangible and intangible to transform into something similar but new, emerging from a background in which everything is designed, engineered, manufactured and built toward a different economic end: increase knowledge use to enable continual re-use, re-sourcing, re-making and recycling of everything; use and remake, weave then reweave, in endless regeneration. Imagine the world rebuilt to use ever more knowledge to empower each cycle of production and reproduction with more intelligence, productivity and value, in endless self-renewal.

How big is this business opportunity of remaking the entire built world?

Which future world is pulling you – the world built to waste or the world built to regenerate forever? Where should your business focus – on working ever harder to use up the world, or on working ever smarter to inform every bit of space, matter, energy and time used in the built world to continually re-connect and renew all things?

The business of business now is about provisioning the world for continual self-renewal. Where is your place in this emerging opportunity space?

“The living world is not “out there” somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. We are the only species on the planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time than renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.” – Paul Hawkens, 2009, University of Portland commencement

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