EcoIQ's History & Evolution

EcoIQ began as a consulting firm in 1989 focused on supporting local government sustainability-related programs. The name, and the tag line "Smart Choices Aligning Economics & Ecology," embodied a central insight. The conventional wisdom that environmental protection and economic prosperity were competing objectives that had to be balanced by policymakers was mostly wrong.

While economy-environment conflicts do arise and can be magnified by poorly designed public policies, the larger and more important truth is that our entire economy is built upon the foundation of the resources provided by the natural environment. Without those resources, there would be no economy. To the extent that damage to the environment drives a broad spectrum of essential natural resources into economic scarcity, our general prosperity will likewise be forced, and to a proportional extent, into decline. Badly damage our environment, and you'll surely badly damage our economy. Pretty simple idea, really.

Turning this issue on its head, the most basic truth today is that protecting and in fact restoring the health of the natural environment must be the backbone of any strategy to achieve and maintain prosperity for the long term. The more damage we do to the living environment, the more we diminish our prospects to sustain prosperity.

But EcoIQ took all of this a critical step further. The argument that the economy and the environment don't conflict in the long run has been made many times. Usually the response from the powers that be is something along the lines of "yes, and in the long run we're all dead." In other words, yes we agree, but the benefits are too uncertain and too far in the future to be very motivating.

EcoIQ's step further was to see and explain that these supposedly conflicting goals could be transformed by smart choices into win-win short-term policies and programs. More specifically, smart choices and well-designed policies and programs could benefit the environment, the local economy, the city's own budgetary interests, and the service needs and wants of neighborhoods. Smart choices and well-designed programs would benefit everyone.

This concept was embraced by the City of San Jose in 1980, and it served as the basis for the ambitious development of that city's "sustainable city" programs. The City, with the assistance of EcoIQ, joined with 100 other U.S. cities to embrace the concept of sustainability in 1990. The San Jose story is told in a 1992 book Saving Cities, Saving Money.

Stepping back for perspective, the path of EcoIQ has always been about calling out false dichotomies and counter-productive and irrational polarizations. That will continue as we move forward.

Evolving Into A Digital Media Company

In 1996, EcoIQ added a website, and from there, we evolved rapidly into an internet publishing and digital media company focused on sustainability. For a consultancy in the heart of the Silicon Valley, it seemed the natural thing to do.

Over the course of the years that followed, we created a dozen websites on as many "eco" domains, published thousands of web pages and hundreds of articles in EcoIQ Magazine and elsewhere, and branched out to found a speakers bureau, produce 65 videos for our speakers, coproduce an award-winning documentary on population, produce and sell video stock footage, and experiment with several other digital services. Each of these ventures remained focused on sustainability.

Overall, our websites have been visited by well in excess of 10 million people from more than 100 countries. Our other sustainability media and speaker placement programs reached hundreds of thousands directly. Some of this past work, that part still potentially useful, will continue to be available as an archive here.

The work of EcoIQ has been just a very small part of the much larger effort by millions of dedicated people around the world to move humanity onto a sustainable path. While together we have made great strides, we are clearly failing to keep pace with the relentlessly accelerating threats to our future.

When we began our online efforts, the environment had not yet become a partisan issue. The United States had a political culture in which facts and reason could eventually prevail on the most important things, and in which good faith deliberation could produce program and policy initiatives that honestly attempted to address the nation's and the world's biggest problems and opportunities.

Since then, our situation has deteriorated. Threats that were once merely very important have passed through a stage of being understood as crises and are now increasingly being recognized as planetary-scale emergencies.

As technical advances have rocketed ahead, many "solutions" have become economically and technically practical. Those emerging opportunities have cast our core problem in sharp relief. It has become very clear that the main obstacle to a future that works, the weak link in our chain of solutions, is how we handle our relations with each other, how we handle our politics.

The EcoIQ Archive

Since publishing our first article online in 1996, our overarching goal has been to promote widespread adoption of more sustainable practices across all sectors of society. We approached that as social entrepreneurs, developing a for-profit business to promote communication about sustainability related issues and opportunities. We created a massive web portal, an online magazine, a syndicated article service, several online stores, a speakers bureau including more than 200 accomplished speakers, a stock video footage service offering thousands of stock video clips, and other media and communication initiatives. Visit our About Us page for links to the more than 600 webpages we have preserved from these projects.

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