Newsletter features Bernard David

“…(A)t this point in time, it is action which is what matters—at an accelerated pace—to both innovate and then, in turn, widely deploy solutions at scale. Inherent in this broad deployment is the need for an economic return since governments can’t and won’t shoulder the entire burden of fixing things.”

This very special end-of-year issue of the newsletter features Bernard J. David, entrepreneur, educator, author, Global CO2 Initiative founder and Advisory Board Chair.

In addition to founding the Global CO2 Initiative (GCI), Bernard has also founded, built and sold several businesses and sat on many Boards of Directors. He has taught entrepreneurship at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and has written eight books on various elements of entrepreneurship and allied computer technology use. Bernard believes that a systems approach to sustainability is critical–one that is based on science and uses education to inform policy, individual action and commerce. He holds a Political Science BA from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a BS in Finance and an MBA in Marketing both from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. 

You turned your attention to the area of sustainability in 2001. What was the catalyst for this change in your focus? And why is this issue important to you?

This timeline, called the “March of Progress,” originally titled The Road to Homo Sapiens, is an illustration that presents 25 million years of human evolution. It was created for the Early Man volume of the Life Nature Library, published in 1965, and drawn by the artist Rudolph Zallinger.” My father-in-law was Rudy Zallinger. I was staring at the original drawings of this timeline (there were many graphical plates, not just one). This was right after 9-11. I was searching for something more meaningful to do and the “timeline” (as our family calls it), caused me to ask the question, how do we make sure that the last individual portrayed in the timeline keeps on walking. Yet, that last individual was not a male or a female homo sapien but more representative of all species on planet earth. The epiphany and question hit me, “how do we ensure that there is a future of life on earth for all species?” I realized that was a wicked hard issue because we have a very complex system on planet earth with so many competing interests that go way beyond any one homo sapien.

Not knowing how to answer the question, my wife, Lisa, suggested that I speak with someone whom her father had mentored at Yale—the late Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy.Tom, Lisa and I met in Tom’s office at the Heinz Center in Washington, DC and I remember asking Tom (after he and my wife caught up on many years gone by), “How do we ensure that there is a future of life on earth for all species?” And thus the journey began. Tom introduced me to so many scholars and movers and shakers in what turned out to be the “climate space.” It was over the ensuing decades that I realized we needed to figure out a way to solve this very complex systems problem which involved individuals, corporations, governments, academicians, NGOs, investors and every other discipline you could imagine.

The issue: We, as a species, are inherently short term thinkers and it takes a lot for us to think longer term, especially if we want to solve and act upon something that requires broad and deep thinking along with swift action, which is exactly what we have in terms of the climate crisis.