Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day- 40 Years Later


Happy Earth Day everyone. This is the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day (read the Wikipedia entry on Earth Day for history of this annual event). While it has come a long way, grown bigger and gotten lots of publicity over the past 40 years, it still has so much farther to go. What follows are my thoughts on the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day.

Environmental Charlatans

Look out for Environmental Charlatans. Those are companies that are trying to wrap themselves up and promote themselves as being good "green" and environmental companies, but for many of these companies this is just a show. How can a company claim to be environmental and socially responsible and not really care about their employees and their families? Not to mention the devastation that is done when these so called "green" companies move more and more work to off-shore locations, displacing more and more workers, while devastating all kinds of communities. There are more and more publications and organizations that are willing to broadcast and claim these "Environmental Charlatans" as model companies that should be emulated. Look out for these awards that are really only being "bought". Look beyond the PR pushes and look to the source. Look to how these awards are really decided and the qualifications of the organizations and companies giving them out. We should all look out for the snake oil salesman selling us a cure that doesn't really cure anything.

Manhattan Project for Alternative Energy Needed

We need a Manhattan project (Wikipedia entry) for alternative energy. I'd like to give credit for this idea to Dan Carlin. He has mentioned this idea in his Common Sense Podcast several times. The Manhattan Project was a legendary effort to develop the atomic bomb by the U.S. the U.K, and Canada before the Nazis. The project reportedly had research at more than 30 sites, employed more than 130,000 people and cost $2 billion (USD) ( $22 billion present day). The point is that there was a huge collaborative effort to build the bomb before the Nazis and such a drive and focus is needed on developing affordable and sustainable energy sources to replace the fossil fuels that we are reliant on today.

Dolphin Safe Tuna Label

If you're old enough you might remember how Dolphins used to be stuck in fishermen's nets in their effort to catch tuna and lots of Dolphins were killed. The Dolphin Safe Tuna Label was created and consumers had a way that they could buy tuna that they knew didn't hurt Dolphins. Again, I'd like to credit this idea Dan Carlin. The point here is that if given a choice, many consumers will make a "good" choice even if the products and services are more expensive. A true certification and label for companies that do care about the environment and the Earth in what they produce, how they produce it, how they act, and that demonstrate real corporate social responsibility is needed. The certification needs to be conducted by an organization that won't be bribed, corrupted, or coerced into making selections that are against their mandate. If a company does not meet the established criteria, they should not be granted the certification. There are lots of environmental groups around today, but many of them aren't really looking at the corporate social responsibility angle and have praised some "Environmental Charlatans" (see paragraph above). For companies that are granted the certification, they have something that can be marketed and promoted and will help to draw people to their brand. Companies are realizing more and more how many people do care about the environment and what a market this truly is and will continue to be. The environment and business certainly don't need to be at odds with each other.

Replacement for Plastic Needed

Have you ever thought about all the packaging that you run across in the course of the day? How much of what you run across is plastic or plastic based? How much of the packaging is really needed? We need a replacement for plastic. So much of what you buy today is made from plastic and while more and more efforts are made to recycle plastic, the production of plastic requires the use of oil, further diminishing the world supply. Much like we need a Manhattan Project for Alternative Energy (see above) we need a similar effort to create the next plastic, something that is environmentally friendly, while being as usable as plastic.

Environmental Regulations Are Being Avoided

Even if you don't buy into Global Warming you have to see that everything has a limit, so it makes sense to give more thought to how we use the resources of the planet and not to destroy resources that are not easily replentishable. With over 5 billion people on the planet and over 1 billion people each in China and India, we need to think seriously and act responsibly in terms of pollution and taking care of the environment. China and India can wish to be able to pollute at the same levels as America and much of the other "developed" world, but you can see how allowing the same level of pollution for these two up and coming powers could have sever and adverse effects on the ecosystem of the planet. A lot of the pollution going on in the developing world is coming from Global companies that are based somewhere else in the world and are taking advantage of "weaker" or less developed environmental regulations. This is something that should not be allowed. Products being sold anywhere in the world should meet the various environmental regulations of the the country where it is being sold. There is no reason that tainted baby formula, pet food, and children's toys with unsafe levels of lead should be sold anywhere. I haven't personally done this yet but I've heard that Corona beer that you buy in America, Germany and other parts of the world tastes better than what you can by locally in Mexico due to clean water and other regulations that products being sold in these countries have to comply with.

Real "Leaders" Needed

We need political leaders that are willing to look past the next election and filling their campaign war chests as well as business leaders that are willing to look beyond the short-term quarterly results and lining their own pockets. We need leaders who are willing to make sure that our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and many future generations have a world that is worth living in. We need leaders that are willing to deal with difficult and unpopular issues that need to be dealt with before the ultimate solution becomes one that we can't afford. If you deal with the "challenging" issue now, they won't be nearly as costly as if you wait until there really is no other choice. John F. Kennedy challenged us to "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country", we need more leaders looking past what they can do for themselves but to what they can do for their voters, employees, shareholders, communities, and the world. They should all be asking themselves "will the world be a better place because they "served"?" Companies used to care about their customers and wanted to make you a customer for life. In some companies you might buy an entry level product and move up to premium products as you grew older and your income grew, so many companies today aren't really concerned about making you a "customer for life"any longer.

Volcanoes, Earthquakes,Tsunamis, and Hurricanes Oh My!

Natural disasters have dominated headlines a lot over the past few months. You've probably heard about recent earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, and China. You might have also heard about the volcanic eruptions in Iceland last week that has grounded thousands of flights to and from Europe. I'm not going to try to make the connection to man causing or indirectly impacting all of these events, but there are those that would and will. It all goes to show that even today, we can't control the various natural disasters and need to be better prepared for dealing with them. I hope that nobody forgets how abysmal the reaction was of FEMA to Hurricane Katrina (Wikipedia entry). While many large companies have contingency and business continuity plans for a wide variety of natural and human disasters, we as a society need to see more of such planning for our communities, especially when you consider that geologists know about Earthquake fault lines, volcanoes, and floodplains so it is possible to prepare more than we do.


I had an instructor several years ago that used to say that "The Solution to Pollution is Dilution", which meant that much of the pollution could be brought down to manageable levels by diluting the strength of the pollution enough. Conversely, it is easier and less costly to deal with pollution before it becomes pollution. Merriam-Webster defines Stewardship as "the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care ". We all need to realize that we're all Stewards of this planet and will one day leave it to our kids, grandkids, and future generations. I hope that you'll learn more about Earth Day and do something to help our planet Earth.

Links of Interest...

Earthday 2010 from

Wikipedia entry on Earth Day a website for teachers and students

Earth Day webcast

Find Earth Day events

WWF website-

Audubon Society-

Greenpeace- Famous environmental activist group (oddly enough their server was down when I tried to find their website.

Wikipedia entry on Greenpeace

NASA's Earth Day 2010 webpage & Earth Day gallery

Mashable Green Toolbox- An impressive collections of links that you can use in your quest to be more "green" Originally posted in 2007 some of the links might be out of date

Photo credit: Picture taken during a vacation in Austria. More pictures from this trip can be seen in this Flickr folder.
blog comments powered by Disqus