Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Mother Jones

I still get the dead tree version of Mother Jones 'cause it's so much more leisurely to read it in my big chair and lay it down and come back to it - maybe lend it to a friend. The December issue cover story The Thirteenth Tipping Point lists and illustrates twelve tipping points identified by John Schellnhuber at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the United Kingdom "any one of which, if triggered, will likely initiate sudden, catastrophic changes across the planet." The article addresses the absence of public concern about climate change and asks, "So what will it take to trigger what we might call the 13th tipping point: the shift in human perception from personal denial to personal responsibility?" The article offers good insight into how the public may - or must - be educated to deal with urgent issues.

But my favorite article in this issue is a sidebar to Bill McKibben's article "Is Corporate Do-Goodery for Real?" The answer to McKibben's article is, largely, no. But the sidebar article, The Carpet Cleaner, describes corporate responsibility beyond my wildest hopes. Ray Anderson, CEO of Interface carpet company, had a life changing reaction to Paul Hawken's book, The Ecology of Commerce. Anderson was so struck by Hawken's message that "he sent his staff to tally up the resources used by Interface and its suppliers. The results were staggering: 1.2 billion pounds of raw material were extracted from the earth to produce the roughly $800 million worth of carpeting Interface sold in 1995."

Interface now has a department of sustainability operations that measures and analyzes how much energy and material the company uses and how much carpet and waste they produce. Since 1995 they have reduced the energy used to produce their carpet by 41%, reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 56%, and water usage by 73% - all while sales grew 25%.

Are there easier ways to run a business? Sure. But as Anderson said in a 1999 interview in Fortune Magazine, "I had a revelation about what industry is doing to our planet. I stood convicted as a plunderer of the earth...In the future, people like me will go to jail." One can only hope...

For a laugh, take a look at Revenge of the Nerds, a light hearted look at high school debate teams. I was a high school and college debater. Can you tell?

No comments: