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Business Week on Global Warming
Jamais Cascio, 12 Aug 04

One thing that has always kind of baffled me about the "Cato said it, I believe it, that settles it" brand of global warming denial is the stubborn refusal to see climate disruption not as an economic threat, but as an opportunity. As my friend Christophe says, someone is going to make a bunch of money off of this. As long as American leaders continue to ignore the problem, the more likely it becomes that that "someone" will be innovators in Europe and China (or even India and Brazil).

Fortunately, even while politicians fiddle, business leaders are starting to take climate disruption seriously. The well-known socialist rag Business Week is even making global warming its cover story this week, and the article makes good reading for anyone interested in the business case for responding to global warming. No matter how familiar you are with the subject, the article is worth reading; many greens don't realize just how widespread the recognition of the danger of climate disruption is in the business world.

[...] taking action brings a host of ancillary benefits. The main way to cut greenhouse-gas emissions is simply to burn less fossil fuel. Making cars and factories more energy-efficient and using alternative sources would make America less dependent on the Persian Gulf and sources of other imported oil. It would mean less pollution. And many companies that have cut emissions have discovered, often to their surprise, that it saves money and spurs development of innovative technologies. "It's impossible to find a company that has acted and has not found benefits," says Michael Northrop, co-creator of the Climate Group, a coalition of companies and governments set up to share such success stories.

These are not wild-eyed activists trying to shut down the modern world -- these are corporate and finance executives who realize that global warming means uncertainty, uncertainty means risk, and that taking steps to mitigate risk now, rather than waiting to see what happens, just makes good business sense.

(Via WorldTurning)

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Comments

Please. Lets not disparage "wide eyed activists trying to shut down the modern world" - given that the Industrial Revolution is doing a pretty good job of shutting down the entire planet without activists. I'm not sure activists quite deserve the accolades you're giving them.

I for one find it disturbing that industrial society committing mass suicide(and taking everyone else with them) is not reason enough for business to shift it's behaviour but rather there _must_ be profit behind it before they'll find it in their hearts to act.

It's pathological behaviour. Frankly it's disgusting. I don't see why we should respect, or even rely on, such pathologies to create change. We need to keep moving and if businesses don't see the need for change then frankly they won't survive as businesses.


Posted by: Zaid Hassan on 13 Aug 04

Actauly in many parts of the world its nothing even remotely like mass sucide as many parts of the world will actauly BENIFIT from global warming. Also in many parts of the world anyone outside your family is concidered expendable and barely human and as such expending them to bring yourself gain is concidered perfectly reasonable.


Posted by: wintermane on 13 Aug 04

You're right, Z, that businesses (and governments) which don't see the need for change won't survive long into the global warming era. Unfortunately, it's also true that if businesses don't make profits from their actions, they also won't survive long as businesses. That may be pathological, but it's also nearly impossible to change globally absent a post-material-scarcity revolution (which may be on the horizon, to be sure, but isn't in our hands now). The point of the Business Week article is to show that businesses which had thought there was a conflict between changing to respond to global warming and remaining viable in the market can actually have both.

Wintermane, you're unfortunately mistaken when you assert that "many parts of the world" will benefit from climate disruption. While it's possible that someplace, somewhere will, on balance, be better off, the interconnected nature of environmental (and social) systems makes global warming a planetary disaster.

For example, you may expect that northern Russia or Canada would benefit from a warmer climate. But one of the effects of climate disruption is the migration and extinction of local animals and plants. The flora and fauna that residents of those areas rely on become fewer in number, and are replaced by alien species which don't have the same utility or, worse, are pests (e.g., various weeds, mosquitos). In addition, what do you think happens when permafrost starts to melt? More often than not, whta you're left with is essentially a slushy swamp, not prairie or arable land.

Of course, not every location will be equally hard-hit by climate disruption. Low-lying places, close to the ocean, near the equator will be in the most trouble, but heat waves, droughts, and surprisingly violent storms are happening now in regions like North America and Europe which will likely be in less trouble than equatorial regions. But what do you think the populations of the hardest-hit regions will do? If you do manage to find yourself in a location which has only seen positive environmental effects from global warming, do you think you'll be the only person wanting to live there?


Posted by: Jamais Cascio on 13 Aug 04

Jamais, I'm objecting to the degree of respect we accord business for its pathological behaviour and the degree that we accept business pathologies as geological realities - they're not.

We look to business as being respectable when in fact it's really pathological, and in many cases criminal, behaviour. I feel that we need to be less defrential towards power and recognise the fact that our leaders, business and otherwise have set us on a global suicide path - and I'm talking about more than global warming.

As for this comment "...many parts of the world anyone outside your family is concidered expendable and barely human and as such expending them to bring yourself gain is concidered perfectly reasonable." I have no idea which parts of the world you're referring to (Washington DC? Tokyo?) I guess that all such people are going to learn a very painful lesson in what it means to live in an inter-connected world.


Posted by: Zaid Hassan on 13 Aug 04

I would explain it but frankly unless you find out on your own you wont believe it.


Posted by: wintermane on 13 Aug 04

Given that I've travelled fairly widely around the world for 31 years and have yet to find the slightest evidence of what you say...yeah, you're probably right that I won't believe it.


Posted by: Zaid Hassan on 14 Aug 04

Something that bothered me recently:

Would there be a conflict of interest in producing a sunscreen spray with chlorofluorocarbons as a propellant ? A product which enlarges it's own market is every managers dream. It's like crack which infects by skin contact.


Posted by: rhetoric warrior on 15 Aug 04



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