Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

The Challenge of Sustainability

Question: What are some of the biggest sustainability challenges confronting businesses?

Jay Light: Today you have to worry about multiple dimensions of sustainability.  It’s energy.  It’s water.  It’s natural resources of all kinds.  It’s also in a world of change of all kinds how you build a sustainable organization that can perpetuate itself across time, so that is something we didn’t used to talk about very much.

On the one hand it has really broadened the sense of what costs one should take into account as one thinks about everything your firm does, so there are the direct costs that people have always taken into account, the labor costs, the direct energy costs, the cost of the buildings, et cetera, but what has become more clear is there are a set of external costs that the firm doesn’t necessarily directly bear, at least not in the short run that firms… pollution being the more obvious one and while that is not a direct cost to the firm in the short run it’s obviously a cost that we all bear and so the question is how do you build a system and how should a firm behave with regard to these external costs.  How do you make them part of if you will, the set of objectives that you are trying to take into account as you think in this broader way about costs?  And then there is also the issue of flexibility.  As the world changes, as different natural resources become more constrained firms have to develop much more flexible sense of how are they going to get things done in the future.  For example, an agribusiness firm, if… how is it going to get things done in a drought?  How would one get things done in an energy crisis?  How would one reinvent a company to in fact adapt to whatever obscurities are likely to present themselves next year, the year after, 10 years from now, 20 years from now, so both cost and flexibility I think are the 2 dimensions along which sustainability would suggest a different set of answers that one might have come to 10 or 20 years ago.

Companies today need to think about sustainability across a variety of dimensions, says Light: "It’s water. It’s natural resources of all kinds. It’s also in a world of change of all kinds how you build a sustainable organization that can perpetuate itself across time."

LIVE TOMORROW | Jordan Klepper: Comedians vs. the apocalypse

Join The Daily Show comedian Jordan Klepper and elite improviser Bob Kulhan live at 1 pm ET on Tuesday, July 14!

Big Think LIVE

Add event to calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo

Keep reading Show less

LGBTQ+ community sees spike in first-time depression in wake of coronavirus​

Gender and sexual minority populations are experiencing rising anxiety and depression rates during the pandemic.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Coronavirus
  • Anxiety and depression rates are spiking in the LGBTQ+ community, and especially in individuals who hadn't struggled with those issues in the past.
  • Overall, depression increased by an average PHQ-9 score of 1.21 and anxiety increased by an average GAD-7 score of 3.11.
  • The researchers recommended that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.
Keep reading Show less

The mind-blowing science of black holes

What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.

Videos
  • When it comes to black holes, science simultaneously knows so much and so little, which is why they are so fascinating. Focusing on what we do know, this group of astronomers, educators, and physicists share some of the most incredible facts about the powerful and mysterious objects.
  • A black hole is so massive that light (and anything else it swallows) can't escape, says Bill Nye. You can't see a black hole, theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Christophe Galfard explain, because it is too dark. What you can see, however, is the distortion of light around it caused by its extreme gravity.
  • Explaining one unsettling concept from astrophysics called spaghettification, astronomer Michelle Thaller says that "If you got close to a black hole there would be tides over your body that small that would rip you apart into basically a strand of spaghetti that would fall down the black hole."

Scientists see 'rarest event ever recorded' in search for dark matter

The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.

Image source: Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
  • The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
  • The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
Keep reading Show less

Space travel could create language unintelligible to people on Earth

A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.

Credit: NASA Ames Research Center.
Surprising Science
  • A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
  • Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
  • This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast