Wednesday, April 05, 2006

For People and Planet


Some of my good friends were making fun of me at dinner the other night because I think Al Gore is the Democrat that can best lead the geographic state of the United States into the future because he understands, better than any other contemporary leader, the challenges of Climate Change, Resource Depletion, and Accelerating Advanced Technology.

Besides his great speeches of late, here is another reason.

He knows how to speak to Wall Street in terms that they understand.

For people and planet
Al Gore, David Blood
Tuesday, April 4, 2006
Wall Street Journal

CAPITALISM and sustainability are deeply and increasingly interrelated. After all, our economic activity is based on the use of natural and human resources. Not until we more broadly "price in" the external costs of investment decisions across all sectors will we have a sustainable economy and society.

The industrial revolution brought enormous prosperity, but it also introduced unsustainable business practices. Our current system for accounting was principally established in the 1930s by Lord Keynes and the creation of "national accounts" (the backbone of today's gross domestic product).

While this system was precise in its ability to account for capital goods, it was imprecise in its ability to account for natural and human resources because it assumed them to be limitless.

This, in part, explains why our current model of economic development is hard-wired to externalize as many costs as possible.

Externalities are costs created by industry but paid for by society. For example, pollution is an externality which is sometimes taxed by government in order to make the entity responsible "internalize" the full costs of production. Over the past century, companies have been rewarded financially for maximizing externalities in order to minimize costs.

Today, the global context for business is clearly changing. "Capitalism is at a crossroads," says Stuart Hart, professor of management at Cornell University. We agree, and we think the financial markets have a significant opportunity to chart the way forward.

In fact, we believe that sustainable development will be the primary driver of industrial and economic change over the next 50 years.

The interests of shareholders, over time, will be best served by companies that maximize their financial performance by strategically managing their economic, social, environmental and ethical performance. This is increasingly true as we confront the limits of our ecological system to hold up under current patterns of use.

"License to operate" can no longer be taken for granted by business as challenges such as climate change, HIV/AIDS, water scarcity and poverty have reached a point where civil society is demanding a response from business and government.

The "polluter pays" principle is just one example of how companies can be held accountable for the full costs of doing business.

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While we are seeing evidence of leading public companies adopting sustainable business practices in developed markets, there is still a long way to go to make sustainability fully integrated and therefore truly mainstream. A short-term focus still pervades both corporate and investment communities, which hinders long-term value creation.

As some have said, "We are operating the Earth like it's a business in liquidation." More mechanisms to incorporate environmental and social externalities will be needed to enable capital markets to achieve their intended purpose -- to consistently allocate capital to its highest and best use for the good of the people and the planet. "

My friends think Al Gore is all washed up.

I guess that is why he is prefered by 38% of Democrats

and Hillary is preferred by 12%.

The next leader of the "not so free" world,

needs to feel the urgency of Climate Change in his bones.

Gore does.

My friends still haven't accepted the Inconvenient Truth

Gore has.

For the People and the Planet,

We should too.

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3 Comments:

Blogger OZ said...

I made a small change and added a link to Gore's speech in Philadelphia late in the morning on this post.

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

super post. I like Gore too. MS

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, great issue. I also like Gore. I thought his speech in Philly was exceptional. The points he makes in the above article are right on target, ala Hawken's Ecology of Commerce. One disturbing trend I have noticed is the lack of media attention he gets. At least this seemeed to be the case to me after his speech in Philly. I was really surprised the "left leaning"press did not pick up on intensity and power of that speech, especially in light of his performances in 2000. What a difference that "fire" would have made! More to your on going points' of global warming is the question of suppression of issues in the media. I had been sceptical of some of my more vocal friends about that imbalance, but after the Gore speech I was convinced.

2:12 PM  

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