Business warming to greener economy that combats climate change

At a Nobel Forum session at Augsburg University this month, a molecular biologist, a Lutheran ethicist, and a businessman discussed the economics, environmental and ethical dimensions of declining reserves of fresh water.

“In our fight against climate change, we are missing a key weapon: better water management,” wrote one panelist in advance. “Better water management leads to energy savings and reduced carbon emissions. The more water you save, the less energy you use and CO2 emissions you generate.”

CEO Doug Baker of Ecolab, also an environmentalist, runs a $13 billion-plus enterprise that helps customer companies manage water, produce safe food and energy at 3 million locations around the globe, served by 48,000 Ecolab employees. 

Baker, 59, has been recognized as a leader in the burgeoning corporate-sustainability movement and a prophet of the opportunity to profit by helping customers conserve and recycle water and energy.

He knows more about dwindling fresh water reserves, industrial use of “gray water” and “toilet-to-tap” tech than any English major I’ve met.

“We can’t do things the way they’ve been done,” Baker said. “When you save and reuse water, you save money and do no environmental harm.”