Technology, the environment and responsibility

Enrique Dans
Nov 1, 2018 · 3 min read

Spanish brewers Damm invited me to write a short piece for their corporate newsletter, so I decided to discuss the role of innovation and technology at a time largely conditioned by the need to develop strategies to preserve life on our planet.

Regular readers will have noticed this is a topic I have been dedicating a lot of space to recently: not so much the result of a growing awareness of a problem we’ve known about for a long time, but about the importance of finding solutions to it. If Volkswagen’s dieselgate prompted me to write some highly critical articles about a company and an industry I have traditionally had a good relationship with, but that now needs to drastically reinvent itself, then the IPCC’s latest report leaves none of us with any choice but to act to prevent climate change. As a result, I have decided to spread the word wherever and whenever I can.

Far from being fatalistic about the situation, I want to show that technology and innovation can provide solutions to many of the most important problems we face, and furthermore, the solution lies in adopting technology that already exists.

I am convinced that in the coming years we are going to see a race to adopt these technologies to help meet our emissions reductions targets, partly due to awareness by companies and their workers and partly due to the pressure we as consumers can exert on them, as well as on governments as voters. Sometimes I whether this is idealism on my part, desperation or folly, but I still believe we have to do it.

Here’s the article:

On October 8 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report highlighting the danger to life on Earth from rising temperatures, and that an increase of more than a degree and a half could trigger an unparalleled environmental catastrophe. It never ceases to surprise me that we are concerned about all kinds of problems and issues, yet we lack the maturity to face up to what is coming our way and continue to deny it or ignore it.

In large degree, climate change is an economic and technological problem: the combination of an economic model based on growth at all costs, and technology that offers all kinds of solutions that we just can’t seem to adopt, or at least not quickly enough.

How is it possible that despite having developed the technologies that can stop a process of global warming that could wipe us and many other species out, we don’t bother using them because they are uncomfortable, seem expensive or reduce economic growth? How can we change the mentality of an entire generation?

A responsible attitude means understanding the process we are living through as an enormous opportunity for change, as a means for companies to set themselves apart from the competition and by making a significant contribution to finding solutions. It involves being creative, working as a team and introducing these elements of sustainability into our business culture, affecting not only how we work but also how we live, how we consume and even how we vote.

In the next few years, we will experience the biggest increase in environmental awareness ever. The companies and the people who work in them will have to adopt an unequivocal attitude if they want to stay in business; they will have to develop technologies that eliminate emissions, supply clean energy and opt for negative CO₂ production or distribution systems, while the most proactive companies in this regard will replace those that aren’t. In the short term, this may mean reduced competitiveness or smaller profits, but that doesn’t matter: the fight is no longer over the market, shareholders or profits. The fight is about our survival. Either we’re proactive about adopting and exploiting the right technologies or the game is up.

Let’s think about it. We have an enormous responsibility.


(En español, aquí)

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at enriquedans.com since 2003)

Enrique Dans

Written by

Professor of Innovation at IE Business School and blogger at enriquedans.com

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at enriquedans.com since 2003)

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