“Trail-Blazer Dependency – A Roadmap for the Sustainability Revolution” is a peer-reviewed scientific article written by Jan Kunnas, published in Global Environment. A key message from this article is that, “No prediction of future is needed as the future is made.”
Kunnas came to this conclusion while researching two case studies. One was the Tesla Model S and the other was the Swedish Aspa Mill. Greenpeace had a project that required chlorine-free pulp. This pushed Aspa Mill into the direction of transitioning to chlorine-free bleaching — it was the only supplier of such pulp at the time. This need for chlorine-free paper wound up saving the Swedish pulp producer and helped it survive the recession.
Both companies went ahead of the curve and didn’t wait for competitors to catch up. Differences, though, include the fact that Tesla disrupted its industry while the Swedish company hasn’t — it was simply responding to consumer demand. In the case of Tesla, it created its own demand in an industry that was sluggish. In both cases, each company ushered in a necessary change for their industries. “To stay ahead of the curve, companies need to move from reacting to upcoming environmental challenges and demands to anticipating them,” Kunnas wrote.
He also points out that the ongoing sustainability movement shared similarities with the quality movement of the 1970s and the 1980s, while also continuing it into today. Many similarities can be found. One example is with Genichi Taguchis’s idea of a moral dimension of quality. Taguchi, an engineer, was honored as a “Quality Guru” by the British Department of Trade and Industry. “According to Genichi Taguchi et al., quality can be conceived as a measure of how much harm or benefit a company’s use of re-sources (raw materials, energy, water, air) and its products bring to society as a whole. Thus, for example, job creation, investments in energy-saving and carbon reduction improve the quality of a company’s products.” His idea is illustrated by a normal car only achieving 25% fuel efficiency, and that doubling that efficiency would increase the overall quality of the vehicle — including reducing the noise, vibration, and environmental pollution as well as the fuel consumed. This type of car would, naturally, be electric.
Kunnas also notes that, along with previous megatrends, the sustainability revolution will benefit countries and companies that are ahead of the curve. In order to stay ahead of this curve, they need to stop reacting to upcoming environmental challenges and start planning for them instead. Base your product as a solution for something that will happen, in other words.
This is how one can seemingly create, reshape, or usher in the future — by foreseeing a potential problem and creating something to solve it. Companies and governments should search for solutions well before political and consumer response. “By showing an example, the first-movers are opening a trail for late-comers to follow. No prediction of future is needed as the future is made.”
I believe this is how Tesla and SpaceX both got to where they are today. The Boring Company and Neuralink are also on their way. Each of these companies has done what Kunnas has mentioned: anticipated a problem and attempted to solve it, thus creating or reshaping the future. Another example of people doing this is the crafters who started sewing face masks to donate to first responders as we got hit with the coronavirus crisis.
Many also gave some to their friends and family, and now as states are reopening, our governors are making it a requirement to wear them.
I also want to touch on that reshaping the future idea. When I first read that, I thought about Billy Carson, a researcher who has studied many ancient tablets and religious texts along with the fields of aerospace and engineering. He is on a lot of those alien shows on Gaia, but he brings scientific knowledge into his theories and I find him interesting. One thing he said in one of his lectures is that we can reshape the future with our thoughts.
Almost everything you see around you was once just an idea — a thought in someone’s head that they downloaded from the ether (universe, spirit, God, or whoever you believe in). The idea is that through creativity, we can reshape our future.
Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.