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Small business can help solve the climate change challenge
If scientists are right about a warming world, all of us, big businesses, small businesses, and consumers alike, are going to have to adjust. The small business community would do well to take up the challenge now, while there is time to deliberate and to craft cost-effective responses it can live with.
There's been virtually no research on what global warming means for small business, even though 23 million U.S. small businesses constitute one-half of the economy. We need to know more.
Extreme weather events, for example, can wipe out an entire region's small businesses in one fell swoop. And they can't readily bounce back from disruptions caused by natural disasters.
Reducing energy waste in U.S. homes, shops, offices, and other buildings will rely on thousands of small concerns in every state that design, make, sell, install, and service energy-efficient appliances, lighting products, heating, air-conditioning, and other equipment.
Inventing and installing technological fixes to curb greenhouse gas emissions must rely on small business innovators and entrepreneurs to produce "clean-tech" breakthroughs in photovoltaics, distributed energy, fiber-optic sensors, and the like.
California's recent reports on how to cope with climate change emphasizes the need for innovation -- and small business is the hotbed of innovation. Large corporations are better at dispersing it -- but innovation is facing a need and solving it. Kitchen sink, garage, or small lab -- individual creativity and persistence will make the difference in our society's struggle to change our way of living and working to be more in line with what our natural systems can tolerate.
We've overstepped our natural resources capacity to support local communities. Change is coming. Let's welcome it with creative determination and a shared sense of hope and self-discipline.