I am coming up to my 2 years anniversary in the cleantech venture capital industry. And hence it is time for some reflection. I will be doing that over the next few weeks so I can be better at my job going forward.
But I have now been in the cleantech/environment/energy ecosystem for much longer than that – at least 12+ years. During this time I have been (a) a student alarmed by rapid environmental degradation and unsustainable industrialization (and yes, the Manatees, and Polar Bears, and Pandas), (b) an academic studying physics & chemistry of climate change, (c) a cleantech entrepreneur building a business to reduce harmful emissions from cars, and (d) now investing in energy and cleantech companies. As my work now demands that my focus be on economic factors driving the creation and growth of sustainable/clean businesses, sometimes its possible to forget why I started to care about this space in the first place. And it wasn’t about the money, and it wasn’t the fame (still waiting for both, by the way!). It was because my teachers, mentors, advisors, and good friends helped me understand and relate to the fragility of the Earth’s ecology we inhabit. That our own actions (reckless growth, unsustainable consumerism, and expanding pollution) could lead to permanent damage to the chemical/biological balance maintained by nature.
Don’t get me wrong: I am all for economic growth – esp since I come from a country where 170+ million people still dream of having the quality of life that the Western world now enjoys – but it all has to be done sustainably and carefully. While training me as an experimental chemist, my Ph.D advisor (Prof. Mario Molina) taught me that while we can repeat laboratory experiments many times over, we only have one Earth and can run any experiment with our climate and ecology only once. So we better be very cautious.
Anyways – seeing this ad by Nissan somehow reminded me of the non-financial, non-economic, non-ROI driven reasons why I care about this space to begin with. And its good to get to the basics. Earth and its environment is the most precious commodity human beings have. We better secure it, maintain it, insure it.