'Sustainability' is one of those buzzwords that has been rendered almost meaningless by lots of talk and very little action (e.g. Rio +20). And yet, we can all probably recognize the types of practices and behaviors that this word aspires to describe.
In his book, Earth: the Sequel, Fredd Krupp, head of the Environmental Defense Fund, detailed how he and others discarded the us-versus-them mentality that had characterized the environmental movement for decades. How do you motivate other people or businesses to adopt practices that are ultimately sustainable? Krupp put his finger on the very powerful human motive to make a profit, and that has formed the basis for many of the environmental policy positions he advocates.
And yet, what we are talking about is more than just a position, but a specific way of thinking.
Krupp has had considerable success winning over members of the business community by demonstrating how sustainable thinking can put a business in a strong position to succeed, surpassing the competition that is happy to satisfy the minimal requirements of the law as it currently stands.
When it comes to the issue of extracting natural gas through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, some forward-looking companies have decided they don't want to be the ones with the leaky wells. They want to use technology to improve their methods and practices. And those are the businesses that Krupp says will win.