Capitalists don’t care about the environment. Industry, agriculture and commerce have long exploited nature’s resources. The pursuit of profit pays scant regard to the underlying cost of using up the planet’s capital.
That’s the familiar story that we hear about capitalists. But a growing number of voices are claiming that big business and nature in fact make perfect partners.
Harnessing the processes of nature, they argue, is simply good business sense. Forests, for example, perform carbon capture worth £2.3 trillion a year. Nature not only does this for free, it executes it with greater efficiency than any supply-chain manager could dream of. A Texan chemical plant, for instance, recently discovered that it could keep its ground ozone levels down by planting a forest nearby, for the same cost as erecting a new smokestack scrubber which would have done the same job.
This is simply one example of how business can thrive through collaboration with nature. But the question is, can such solutions be developed on a mass scale? Or is this vision of business and nature working hand in hand across the globe just a case of wishful green thinking?
Intelligence Squared, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, brought together some of the world’s leading conservation experts, along with voices from the worlds of finance and industry, to ask whether working in tandem with nature is the soundest investment that business can make.