Green Gets Complicated
Remember the good old days -- you know, 10 months ago -- when going green was simple and virtuous? Way back when ethanol was a good thing and a company could buy some carbon credits and feel good about itself?
So long to all that. This green thing is getting complicated. Ethanol may help clear the air, but then food prices shot up and guess what's taking the heat for the food crisis? Suddenly we're asking if cleaner fuel is worth it if it means people starve?
Two of the latest posts in the Leading Green blog carry on the discussion of the complexity of sustainability. Both are by Emma Stewart, a Ph.D. and consultant to the Environmental Defense Fund. In the first, Stewart asserts that business's focus on carbon footprints could create a kind of "carbon myopia." She writes, "A singular focus on one ecological system, the atmosphere, may cause perverse outcomes or neglected crises in the hydrosphere or lithosphere."
The whole post is a beautiful blend of business, science and psychology. Stewart follows that with an excellent post about "mutually assured confusion" between consumers and consumer-facing companies. Companies have baffled consumers with myriad standards and marketing; consumers meanwhile have baffled companies with their unpredictable and confusing green behavior.
In a sense, this complexity is good. It means people are starting to focus on the serious, not the superfluous. From these discussions, smart solutions should emerge. John Sviokla has one: Increase the pain of paying for energy, and people will be more careful using it. Check out his post on how behavioral economics can affect sustainability practices.
Finally today, David Silverman has followed up on his massively popular post 11 Habits of the Worst Boss I Ever Had. In "I Have a Bad Boss--Help!" Silverman asks the smart question to all the people who wrote in with boss horror stories: How do these people get to be bosses?
His answer: "Corporate responsibility in general is on the wane versus profits. And in the management of people, some argue that the pendulum has swung far away from even the appearance" of such a responsibility.
It's hard to argue with that observation. Especially after Silverman mentioned the email from one reader who wrote: "I've had two separate bosses who kept weapons in the office."
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