Treehugging for Capitalists

BOOK REVIEW: The New Entrepreneurs: Building a Green Economy for the Future

BOOK REVIEW: The New Entrepreneurs: Building a Green Economy for the Future

Available from: www.anansi.ca, Chapters.ca or Amazon.com (hardcover, $32.95)

With a dramatic cover featuring a crisp black suit and an author who’s a successful venture capitalist, The New Entrepreneurs (House of Anansi) isn’t your typical environmental book. Andrew Heintzman uses a slew of stats and entrepreneurial success stories to show that there’s big money in developing technologies and techniques to protect Canada’s ever-dwindling natural assets. He should know: as someone who’s researched and invested in eco businesses for the past 8 years, Heintzman has had a front-row seat in watching the green economy pick up steam. So we asked him: who would you like to send copies of the book to keep the momentum moving forward? Here are the bedside tables he’d target:

1. Canada’s budding entrepreneurs
Heintzman hopes to inspire business owners to seek their fortunes by looking at Canada’s dwindling natural resources through fresh eyes. “The separation between ecology and economy is false,” says the author.

Required reading Chapter 6: Peak Soil. Heintzman considers soil our most undervalued resource, and one that’s becoming increasingly scarce as urban sprawl consumes farmland and commercial farming methods sacrifice soil quality for crop yield.

Enter Brent Preston and Gillian Flies, a former CBC producer and a business consultant who fled city life to start New Farm in Singhampton, Ontario. They eschew synthetic fertilizers and scarcely till the land to minimize soil erosion — and their organic lettuce sells for more per pound than beef. Because it enriches the soil and decreases emissions from farm machines, no-till agriculture is a form of carbon sequestration (the long-term storage of carbon dioxide to mitigate global warming) that can potentially reduce greenhouse gases — and open a new revenue stream: carbon credits. “It’s an appealing business model, at a time when most farmers are just scraping by,” writes Heintzman.

2. Canada’s intrepid entrepreneurs
“The category of entrepreneurs I’m writing about are taking big risks and I want to encourage them to continue and others to start,” says Heintzman. In the past, discussions of advancing the environmental agenda came at an economic cost. “It will be quite the opposite in the future.”

Required reading Chapter 1: If a Tree Falls. The author shows how B.C.’s valuable pine forests are being ravaged by rapidly spreading mountain pine beetles. The province estimates that by 2013, more than 80 percent of marketable pine will be dead, seriously denting the $1.9 million annually that the forest industry chips into provincial and municipal coffers.

Triton Logging has developed one solution to the problem of declining forests. Instead of living trees, Chris Godsall’s B.C. goes after dead timbers from the estimated $50 billion in perfectly preserved lumber submerged in flooded hydroelectric facilities. After spending years developing and perfecting a custom machine to handle underwater logging, Triton is currently clearing trees from Ootsa Lake in B.C. As Heintzman writes, “Triton is a classic entrepreneurial story about the reinvention of an old industry for a new time.”

3. Stephen Harper & Co.
Heintzman ultimately wants the book to change mindsets and spur our political leaders to collaborate on a national economic strategy. If arch enemies John A. Macdonald and George Brown could create the British North American Act that gave rise to confederation, surely today’s leaders can find common ground in economic prosperity.

Required Reading Chapter 5: An Energy Superpower. Heintzman sees a different kind of business opportunity in the oil sands — as a technology and innovation asset, not a resource.

So do entrepreneurs like Lionel Kambeitz of Regina, who runs HTC Purenergy, a world leader in carbon capture and storage technology. HTC captures CO2 from the exhaust of large power producers and injects it back into the ground. From there, it is trapped in geologic formations or used to coax depleted oil wells back into production. “There are a lot of heavy oil and coal deposits around the world,” Heintzman points out. “Using our oil sands as a test lab presents a much greater economic opportunity because we’d be creating know-how that we could sell abroad.”