Updated: 11/1/06; 7:06:07 AM.
Gil Friend
Strategic Sustainability, and other worthy themes of our time

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Do we have enough zeros now?
Some say that for a matter to rise to a CEO's attention, it has to have enough zeros at the back of it -- that is, enough money has to be at stake to command the attention of a very busy and very focused person (focused, one would hope, on the big picture and the long term). As the late Senator Everett Dirksen reportedly said, 'A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.'

Well, the prospect of climate change (can we call it 'climate crisis' yet?) taking 20% of the global economy might finally be enough to get some serious attention -- even in the back rooms of the White House. At a prevention cost of an estimated one percent of economic product, that's a hard deal to turn down.

The Stern Review on the economics of climate change commissioned, and just released, by the UK government is perhaps the most comprehensive, and authoritative analysis yet of the economic impacts of climate change. Its conclusions are stark:

There is still time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, if we take strong action now.
[Emphasis theirs.]

The scientific evidence is now overwhelming: climate change is a serious global threat, and it demands an urgent global response.

This Review has assessed a wide range of evidence on the impacts of climate change and on the economic costs, and has used a number of different techniques to assess costs and risks. From all of these perspectives, the evidence gathered by the Review leads to a simple conclusion: the benefits of strong and early action far outweigh the economic costs of not acting.

Alan AtKisson offers a long analysis at WorldChanging. I'll have my own to offer in coming days.
10:37:25 AM    comment []  trackback []

Buy the book! Tom'w! 11s rule!
WorldChanging - A User's Guide for the 21st Century - releases tomorrow. If you like the site, you'll like the book, lauded as this century's Whole Earth Catalog. (If you don't like the site, you probably wouldn't be reading my blog either. If you don't _know_ the site, time to get your butt over there.)

Worldchanging.com, subtitled "a better world is here," is rich compendium of what's working in the world, as the world we dream of emerges before our eyes -- not by magic or wishful thinking, but by the inspiringly creative works of people the world around. The book is the compendium of the compendium. It's fat. It's rich. It's worth your attention. (And I'm honored to be one of the contributors.)

Here's some of the inspiringly creative launch plan from the team:

Here's what we're asking:

On November first, at eleven minutes after eleven a.m. (Pacific time), please go to Amazon and buy the book.

Better still, go to Amazon and buy the book on the first, and in the meantime blog, email, talk up the book and do whatever you can to encourage everyone who you think cares about sustainability, innovation and social change, everyone who wants more solutions in the public debate, to join you on buying the book on 11/1 at 11:11 a.m. Please help spread the word.

11:11 has long been my favorite time of day. I guess I've just been in training for this. ;-)
7:33:28 AM    comment []  trackback []

Greener warfare?
From ADPSR, we get this quote of the day from BBC's Culture Schock:

'No company, regardless of what they make, can now just make a product, bung it out there, and then forget about it,' she said. 'We all have a duty of care to ensure that from cradle to grave products are being used appropriately and do not do lasting harm.'

'She' in this case is Deborah Allen, director of corporate responsibility for British Aerospace (BAE), one of the world's biggest arms-makers, which says it has been making major investment in 'ecologically-sound weaponry' -- investments in creating products that reduce the collateral damage of warfare.

Future trends analyst Sarah Bentley told Culture Shock that she thought the changes to the weapons were a 'very good thing.... Unfortunately, as much as we hate the idea of war, it is a reality of life and it does happen,' she said.

'I think it's only going to be beneficial if, for example, explosives have a limited shelf life, which does away with the problem of landmines exploding anything up to 20 years after the initial deployment has taken place.' For example, she cited explosives that eventually turn into manure, which essentially 'regenerate the environment that they had initially destroyed.'

The price of partial success, I guess -- rhetoric adopted but point missed.

'It is very ironic and very contradictory, but I do think, surely, if all the weapons were made in this manner it would be a good thing.'

Irony noted, but there's a big difference between a better thing and a good thing.

I'm reminded of Bill McDonough's critiques of eco-efficiency (vs 'eco-effectiveness'). 'If the Nazis were more efficient' he asks, 'would that be better?' I guess the same question can now be applied to 'cradle to cradle.' Sigh.
7:04:55 AM    comment []  trackback []

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