Imagine a conversation taking place at the end of the nineteenth century. A group of powerful and farseeing businessmen announce that they want to create a giant new industry in the United States, one that will employ millions of people, sell a copy of its product every two seconds, and provide undreamed-of levels of personal mobility for those who use its products. However, this innovation will also have other consequences so that at the end of one hundred years, it will have done or be doing the following:
Now imagine they succeeded. This is the automobile industry — a sector of commerce so
massive that in 1998, five of the seven largest U.S. industrial firms produced either cars or their fuel. If this industry can fundamentally change, every industry can. And change it will. This chapter describes how the world’s dominant business is transforming itself to become profoundly less harmful to the biosphere.