'Save The Environment'??? Puh-leeze: Let's Get Real - InformationWeek

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IoT
IoT
Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
11/12/2008
03:15 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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'Save The Environment'??? Puh-leeze: Let's Get Real

My fellow blogger Kevin Ferguson, who's doing excellent work on our Green Technology beat, recently ended a post with this jaw-dropper: "And perhaps that's what is needed to save the environment." Now, while I'm as fully committed as the next guy to the need for businesses to do a better job with more-sustainable sourcing, recycling, and energy conservation, w

My fellow blogger Kevin Ferguson, who's doing excellent work on our Green Technology beat, recently ended a post with this jaw-dropper: "And perhaps that's what is needed to save the environment." Now, while I'm as fully committed as the next guy to the need for businesses to do a better job with more-sustainable sourcing, recycling, and energy conservation, we all need to severely ratchet down the rhetoric or else in our wildly misguided quest to "save the environment" we'll end up doing terrible damage.Again, let me be clear: Yes, it's our responsibility to care for this extraordinary place where we live. But a huge part of that responsibility involves understanding the challenge that lies in front of us, particularly in these times when unsubstantiated or merely anecdotal claims of massive, man-made climate change are everywhere. Yet this chart, released two days ago from the National Climatic Data Center, shows that temperatures have been lower than average across most of the U.S. for the first 10 months of 2008. Save the environment?

Let's go a little deeper with some more facts and figures about the state of the earth's temperature and correlated analysis on the impact that ill-conceived "save the environment" policies would have on the global economy. Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, a business consultant, policy adviser, inventor, and ardent refuter of the hypothesis of global warming, wrote an open letter several weeks ago to losing presidential candidate and global-warming believer John McCain about the dangers of pursuing business regulations and economic policies predicated on "saving the environment." At the core of his fact-based argument was this assertion: "With every respect, there is no rational basis for your declared intention that your great nation should inflict upon her own working people and upon the starving masses of the Third World the extravagantly-pointless, climatically-irrelevant, strategically-fatal economic wounds that the arrogant advocates of atmospheric alarmism admit they aim to achieve." Save the environment?

A superb example of how businesses can be great contributors to thoughtful and effective environmental policy comes from one of the world's largest corporations, Wal-Mart, which paradoxically is often the target of scorn from so-called activist groups who blame Wal-Mart for everything from toxic pollution to economic collapse. Here's Wal-Mart COO and executive VP Bill Simon from a meeting of company executives and securities analysts on Oct. 27: "In the stores, we're also on a very fast track, we believe, for zero waste -- that's our goal. We've made a tremendous amount of progress over the last two years to the point where today our recycling revenues are exceeding our expenses and not only is it good for the environment, it's also very good for the P&L because it's actually generating positive revenue offsetting all of the expenses, and then some." Simon also said Wal-Mart has cut the number of miles driven by its Logistics and Transportation truck fleet in the past year by 7.8% as the company has improved how it schedules and loads deliveries. Meanwhile, the company is adding more hybrid trucks to that fleet. By using technology to help improve the loading of the trucks by 5.3% and to further reduce empty-truck miles, Wal-Mart was able, Simon said, to achieve that 7.8% reduction in miles driven in spite of a growth-induced 3% increase in cases shipped during the year. So the company is doing such a superb job at recycling that that effort has now become a *profit center*, and its more energy-efficient trucks are shipping more cases while driving fewer miles. Now that's a "saving the environment" platform we should all get behind, and that more businesses should emulate.

And finally, perhaps no one has ever captured the absolute value of the phrase "save the environment" better than the late comedian -- and closet climatologist? -- George Carlin (**warning: Some vulgarity**).

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