An Evolutionary Approach to Business Strategies and the Natural Environment
Chapter 1: How do Firms Create Ecological Value?
1. How do firms create ecological value? Is it better to use glass bottles instead of carton boxes as milk containers? Should we use biofuels instead of carbon-based fuels to drive our cars? Does the Toyota Prius hybrid car contribute more to global warming than a Hummer?1 These are some of the questions that have been posed over the years by people seeking to reduce their negative impact on the natural environment. These questions are not easy to answer conclusively. Ecological impact has many components, ranging from emissions to soil, air and water, to a decline of biodiversity. In the case of milk containers, glass milk bottles lead to higher ecological impact from transportation due to their weight. But as they can be used more often they are more resource efficient. An answer thus requires determining the relative value of these different impacts. Also, the ecological impact of any product depends on the human practices that accompany its production and consumption. The impact of biofuels depends to a great extent on the land on which they are grown. If existing agricultural land area is used the impact is different from when forests are cut to provide the land to grow them. To complicate things even more, human practices tend to differ substantially in different parts of the world. Despite efforts to deal with these complications in assessing ecological impact we lack a complete understanding of the way in which human activities intrude on natural ecologies. This book is about...
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