Peter Senge on sustainability and climate change

This month’s Strategy+Business contains a beautiful, must-read article co-authored by MIT Sloan School’s Peter Senge (with Bryan Smith of York University’s Sustainable Enterprise Academy and Nina Kruschwitz).  The article, which is adapted from the authors’ new book, The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organizations Are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World,  addresses the role of business in combating climate change and environmental damage. It contains examples from the business world ” from DuPont and Nike to the owner of a Swedish automobile dealership ” plus thought-provoking ideas. The authors suggest that the entire Industrial Age has been a long-lasting ”bubble” ” a period of unsustainable overexpansion which, like the more short-lived dot-com bubble, led people operating within the bubble to have unrealistic views ” in this case about the environment.

The message couldn’t be more urgent. This month also saw another new publication: in the U.S., the National  Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the release of  a new report from the U.S. Climate Change Science Program.  The sobering report predicts that climate change will cause more extreme weather events in North America, such as droughts, powerful hurricanes and intense precipitation.

Senge is not a recent convert to the importance of sustainability: In the Winter 2001 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review,   he and a co-author wrote about the topic in a prize-winning article called “Innovating Our Way to the Next Industrial Revolution.”    And MIT Sloan Management Review published Collaborating for Systemic Change,” another sustainability-related article co-authored by Senge, in Winter 2007.