Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Enjoy Today. Tomorrow is looking a lot iffier.

I have a last listened to the Today slot I was told about on Saturday morning (8.10am).

It is one of the scariest things I've heard.

John Humphrys in a cosy get-together with some of the world's 'leading' 'businessmen', at what sounds like a dinner table, watched by a clubby audience (there's a mental image - imagine them watched by starving kids through glass) in Davos.

I don't know if there's a download, but here's the link while it's good. Listen!

I will review it again to be sure, but I counted at least three top bods, from Shell, Pepsi and Nestle.

Two sounded Northern European and one American. I think I can hold my Brit head higher ('til they interview one of this country's hotshots and he mouth's off the same).

The questions were mild, but their answers were facile, with no excuse, no mitigation and no explanation other than if they didn't do what they did people wouldn't buy it. If your audience is dead they may not be buying much soon. And whatever priorities others may have (AIDS patients, etc) that were raised by way of putting their obligations to the future lower on the totem, it was just so much green-won't-wash.

One even tried to separate climate change (not a problem in his eyes) with what he thought was a problem: water shortage! Er... where does potable water come from? Or not, as in Australia, currently? Perrier mines?

Another tried to equate horse-traffic to car-traffic. It was like listening to a kid playing with a fun, rude fact. What on earth has horse manure in 1890 got to do with a few more billion people now driving cars and emitting greenhouse gases!!!! Yes, science and commerce made life 'better', and now it looks like it may be making things worse. It needs a correction.

And somehow what happened in Greenland 1,000 years ago naturally makes what is happening now OK? Er, no. We have 6 billion, and growing, people, trying to survive on limited resources, and making it all worse exponentially.

Another claimed his bottling was all returnable glass. Well, until corrected. Now, what is 'most'?

If they think all that they came out with is sustainable, then I fear for their reading of a balance sheet.

And my kids' future.

BBC - Climate change warning for Sydney - With a vid-link to the water (recyl) situation in Queensland

2 comments:

Dave Goodwin said...

Peter,

How depressing; you are right, the whole thing sounded like an interview with a bunch of wealthy, couldn’t give a sh*t, spoilt kids on a night out with Daddy’s unlimited credit card.

Why would anyone laugh at a question as important as GW? Yet it sounded if it was all very jolly, light hearted and totally unimportant in the grand scheme of things at Davos; where the majority of senior ministers present place GW as the second, if not THE most important issue facing mankind at the moment.

Although he had to correct himself about the issue of glass bottles for Pepsi throughout India, Michael White (Pepsi) actually admitted at one point, “However, it is clearly a serious problem”.

Peter (didn’t catch his surname) of Nestle provided the most facile, ridiculous answers I think I’ve ever heard on what purports to be a serious radio interview. Perhaps he thinks he’s some sort of trainee comedian? It was he who made the ‘if it wasn’t for wealth and material advancement blah blah blah …. New York would be buried under 9 Metres of horse shit’ type comment. But “It’s the media that makes it (GW) the most important issue …… climate change is a supposition” made my blood boil!!!

Some interesting facts from Jerome Van De Vere (Shell) though: “In 20 years time we’ll use more oil and gas than we do today”. Also, Shell invested $1 Billion in research on renewable energies, to which I thought, great, at least they’re doing something – only to feel really deflated when it turned out that this was only 1.1% of their research budget!! And he tried to abrogate all responsibility back to governments – ‘It’s a government decision; not businesses’.

I did like Michael White’s little analogy though – “running an international business; it’s like herding cats”.

If I could get a message to them it would be along the lines of:-

Wise up, start listening, look at the evidence, and start doing – Now!! GW is here to stay and history will record your actions for your grandchildren to read (assuming they survive). The technological advancements that mankind needs to safeguard its own habitat should be in the pipeline now, and they will only come about if both major international businesses and governments take action immediately. If you think herding cats is tough – try surviving GW if (or maybe that should be when) it goes through the breakpoint and starts accelerating out of control. The Earth could make Mars look positively idyllic.

Dave Goodwin.
SolarVenti UK Ltd.

Dave said...

Further to my previous comment, there is an interesting quote from the Shell guy [Jeroen van der Veer] who was at Davos the other day part way down this piece. I reckon it firmly puts him in the “If my business can make money out of it, then I’ll pay lip service to it” camp. See - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2007/02/01/ccgreen01.xml

Dave Goodwin.