The prospect of a warming planet brings with it predictions of melting ice sheets, rising sea levels, heat waves and forest fires. And in the view of Orange County author Kimberly B. Keilbach, it brings something else: business opportunities.
Keilbach, an Irvine writer and consultant who published “Global Warming is Good for Business” in April, will deliver a lecture Aug. 26 at UC Irvine on the upside of global warming. Think niche.
“Businesses aren’t waiting for the government,” Keilbach says. “They’re building their own marketing niches, like Apple created its own marketing niche with Apple computers and the iPod.”
The idea, she says, is to look for entrepreneurial openings in the realms of energy, waste handling, pollution control and other warming-related fields.
“There are businesses out there creating markets and also doing a great deal of good for the environment,” she said. “They’re doing it to make money, and they’re coming at it from a little different point of view.”
She mentioned 3M, which formed teams to look for ways to cut energy costs and did, saving millions; TerraCycle, which is working with school children to recycle juice pouches into book bags and backpacks; and San Francisco restaurants that are converting food waste into energy.
There is plenty of innovation as well in the area of solar energy, she said.
Keilbach, who spent part of her childhood in Orange County and returned for good in the late 1980s, says she prefers in her talks not to focus on the science of global warming.
“The focus on my book is, ‘Look, folks, let’s stop arguing about things we’re not going to agree on, and start working together on things we can agree on,’” she said. “Everybody can agree that reducing waste and saving money is a good thing. If only we did that, we would make a significant change in our world.”
Her book is not meant to celebrate global warming as a boon to mankind, she said.
“I’m not saying, ‘Let’s not worry about it. Just go make money,’” she said.
Instead, it’s a matter of perspective.
“There are people out there who don’t believe in global warming,” she said. “I sometimes hesitate to use that term. A lot of times, you get businesses that just freeze right up. It’s not just that they don’t want to go green; they’re just very resistant to more government intrusion. They just don’t want any more regulation.”
Instead of asking if they want to go green, she says, ask if they want to “save money and make money. They go, ‘Oh, yes.’”
Talk of global warming provokes anger, denial and a sense of loss of control.
“People freeze up, or otherwise don’t know what to do,” she said. ” ‘Just let the experts tell us.’ We are the experts. We get to choose what kind of products and services we buy. We get to elect government officials in line with our way of thinking.”
Even doing nothing is a kind of statement, she said.
“We have to get involved,” she said. “Making no decision is making a decision, and that is to stay with the way things are. I think more and more people are seeing that the way things are isn’t necessarily our best choice. I don’t believe in waiting for other people to tell me how to do things.”
Keilbach will speak to a breakfast group called “Inside Edge Foundation for Education” at 7 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 26, at the UC Irvine University Club, 801 Peltason Dr., Irvine; the cost is $25.
Read earlier Register story on Keilbach.
(Photo and book-cover image courtesy Linden Publishing, Inc.)