startupThis is all largely the story of any disruptive innovation since the Industrial Revolution. So understand that trees don’t grow to the moon. The next stages of these and any other disruptions include commoditization and utility formation or regulation. China is doing what it is because it is commoditizing many of the inventions made in the Valley over the last few decades. As a disruption works its way through society it commoditizes so that it can serve the greatest number of consumers. But that also cheapens the products and exerts significant margin pressure. The Chinese and others will do a lot of cool stuff with our innovations but they won’t make the money we made. Decades ago steel-making went off shore to emerging economies. They made lots of steel cheap and we bought it because at that point it had becomoe a commodity. Ditto computer making and TV manufacture. We can lament the job losses but know this: Our job in the global economy is to lead with innovation and to create industries and jobs in the process. Today that means leading the charge on sustainability and alternative energy, two areas with huge profit opportunities. Our greatest challenge now is to get the fossil fuel industry to go the way of steel-making. They are fighting this tooth and nail.

Researcher, author of multiple books including “The Age of Sustainability” about solutions for climate change. Technology, business, economics.

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