Environmental sustainability is often pitted against economic prosperity by mainstream economists and politicians without realizing that these two go hand in hand. However, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who invest in green technology have long recognized that these two entities are highly complementing rather than competing.
In the past, pollution and environmental destruction were seen as an inevitable byproduct of economic prosperity. And even up to this day, the government and economists measure national wellbeing using a highly limited set of indicators that include economy, crime, education, job security, social cohesion, etc.
However, recent surveys have shown that aside from economic prosperity, a growing number of people are also concerned about the natural environment, particularly relating to the natural resources for the wellbeing of their future generations.
In a nutshell, green technology aims to mitigate or reverse the environmental impact of human activities through sustainable and eco-friendly production process or supply chain. While it often alludes to energy production that is less harmful to the environment than more traditional methods, it encompasses a myriad of inventions and innovations that address safety and health concerns, diminishing resources, looming pollution, and food and water scarcity.
Is There a Need for Green Technology?
Green technology offers valuable gifts: economic prosperity, equitable wealth distribution, job creation, a solution to the looming energy crisis and climate change, among others.
While green technology is a relatively young market, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and investors bet on its potential amidst the looming energy crisis, widespread pollution, and continuous depletion of many natural resources.
Here is the list of crises that green technology can solve or at least mitigate.
Economic prosperity is closely tied to having reliable and sustainable energy sources. Unfortunately, most countries still rely on fossil fuels such as gas, oil, and coal, which are all finite sources; generating power through these fuels is also one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.
According to studies, the earth will run out of fossil fuels in 2088. Hence, it is imperative to address this looming problem, especially with the fact that industrialized countries obtain more than 95 percent of their energy from this finite source.
Green technology and renewable energy sources will not just solve the energy crisis, which is exacerbated by the steady increase in the world’s population and the growing demand for fuels, but will also help to reduce greenhouse gas emission and eventually avoid catastrophic climate change.
Green technology and policies that promote this market help to foster economic prosperity through the generation of “decent” jobs, which offer safer working conditions, more security, better wages, and better career prospects than “brown” jobs in polluting industries.
Studies have also suggested that mitigating climate change and pollution inevitably create high-quality employment.
Climate change and the depletion and destruction of finite natural resources can exacerbate poverty. This may sound like a paradox as they are seen as the ill effects but inescapable results of economic prosperity and growth.
But there is nothing contradictory with the above-mentioned statement. Economic prosperity might be possible amidst widespread poverty due to inequitable wealth distribution. The government and traditional economists and educators further downplay the impact of the environmental condition on national wellbeing by focusing too much on indicators related to job, money, health, and education.
But with green technology whose aim is to address ecosystem degradation, pollution, natural resource depletion, and energy crisis, the poor may have a fighting chance to improve their condition. After all, they are the most affected stakeholder because they often live in the most fragile areas and have limited resources.
Furthermore, eradicating or at least mitigating the ill effects of human activities on the environment is the key to achieve and sustain economic prosperity that will reach the whole population.
Pollution not just threatens our water and food sources, it also compromises the well-being of people and their future generation’s health and food security. Hence, one of the focal points of green technology is recycling, which mitigates the depletion of the natural resources.
And with more sophisticated recycling techniques, it has now become possible to construct houses and buildings that are mostly made of recycled materials. To further reduce environmental impact, scientists and engineers are creating new home, office, and building designs and features that reduce energy consumption.
Consumer and industrial products are also a great contributor to water and air pollution, according to a recent survey. This could change with green technology that aims to search and create products whose contents and production processes have a minimal impact on the environment.
With the benefits mentioned above of green technology, anyone may easily surmise that it is closely tied to sustained economic prosperity.
How Can It Aid Economic Prosperity?
Economic prosperity, in the traditional sense, is the state of wealth and quality of life. In any country, the way to increase wealth and living standards is to promote and sustain entrepreneurship, innovation, and competition. However, this might be an outdated definition as more people believe that the environmental condition—i.e., access to green spaces, clean air and water, and ecological preservation for future generations—should also matter when measuring the national well-being.
Simply put, the natural environment should be included on the list of indicators of economic prosperity and national wellbeing if the government and economists truly want to “measure what matters most.”
Read on the list that explains how green technology can foster economic prosperity.
- There is a market for clean technology. Due to the looming energy crisis, climate change, and diminishing natural resources, there is no other choice but to shift to this market that is worth around US$1.35 trillion annually.
- Green technology and its recent innovations are stimulating demand for sustainably sourced goods and eco-friendly services.
- It also enhances productivity. By using natural resources efficiently and sustainably, green technology is the key to long-term economic prosperity in which the gist is to allocate the resources to the highest value of use. At the same time, this market is drastically reducing waste and energy consumption.
- Green technology can solve or at least improve resource bottlenecks, which are the biggest threat to long-term economic prosperity. Moreover, it reduces environmental impact and thus secures our and our future generation’s food source.
- Boosts investor confidence in a country. Savvy entrepreneurs and investors know that most of our products and services derived from finite sources, some of which are already ruined or depleted. Fortunately, green technology has proven itself as a lucrative market, especially now that a growing number of consumers are demanding for greener products. Consumers are increasingly becoming more aware of the great strain on the natural sources, and so there is a growing preference for less polluting, safer, and healthier products and services.
- Green technology contributes to fiscal consolidations. It may sound ironic, but a great number of highly polluting industries receive government subsidies. One good example is the
Despite the seemingly boundless opportunity with green technology and its auspicious impact on economic prosperity, it remains indispensable to tailor it to the specific community circumstances. Hence, the people should be made aware that every effort to reduce carbon footprint has a direct and indirect effect on their livelihood, the quality of their life, and their progeny’s well-being or even their survival.
Meanwhile, clean and green technology applies to multiple sectors, and so its impact on economic prosperity and growth is something that can’t be easily ignored. Sectors such as agriculture, energy industry, transportation, manufacturing, and building are arguably the best targets because they are the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.
The sectors mentioned above are great recipients of green technology because of the recent innovations in recycling and process technology, and also better access to new information and sustainably sourced materials.
However, companies that aim to adopt green technologies face barriers such as lack of information, lack of human resources and skills, lack of or inability to access alternative raw materials and chemicals, expensive process technology, among others. Consequently, the only way to pave the way for tangible economic prosperity—i.e., poverty reduction and a more fair distribution of wealth—is to identify and eliminate these obstacles.
But as a relatively new market, green technology stakeholders, the private sector, government, and NGOs have yet to create an all-encompassing process that will remove the obstacles mentioned above that deter large-scale dissemination of eco-friendly products, services, and processes.
Widespread dissemination of green technology is critical to developing countries, which are experiencing their initial phase of economic prosperity and growth that is closely tied to substantial environmental impact. During this period, they exploit local or sometimes even the global natural resources to feed the so-called progress. Failure to intervene during this most critical phase can threaten the world’s biodiversity and the very survival of humanity.