business news in context, analysis with attitude

On the subject of climate change and global warming and whether business needs to recalibrate to take these issues into account, MNB user Jeff Reinartz wrote:

KC, you're very intelligent and I agree with you on most issues, but I believe you are dead wrong on the man-made global warming issue. Last winter was globally the coldest the planet had experienced in years, but you'd have to dig to find any news about that, because it doesn't paint a doomy and gloomy enough picture for the mainstream media to want to pursue.

That's what this is all about in my opinion, making news and keeping research dollars coming in for the scientists who have been deemed credible on the issue.

This winter in Minnesota has also been the coldest I can remember, so if the chicken littles can point to a couple unusually large hurricanes and some ice melting in the summer as proof of man-made global warming, why can't I point to the past two winters as proof that it's the fraud I believe it to be?

Let's be good stewards of the Earth yes, but let's also let the Earth do what the Earth does: cycle through warm and cool periods. Who made the current global temperature the ideal temperature anyway? Maybe it should be a little warmer. Frankly, if temperatures warm a couple degrees in Minnesota you won't be hearing much complaining. Shorter, warmer winters and a longer crop growing season.

In his email, Jeff made a caustic reference to Al Gore, and I’ll repeat something I’ve said here before. In some ways, the worst thing that the global warming awareness brigade has going for it is Al Gore’s participation – because while he has been eloquent and persuasive and has won the Nobel Prize for his efforts, he also has given some people license to assume that his efforts are political and partisan.

And for the record, New England, where I live, is having one of the coldest and snowiest winters that I can remember…and this doesn’t make me doubt even a little bit the science that supports global warming and climate change. Because we’re not talking about what happens in the 90 days or so that make up a single season, but of broader =, more sweeping changes that I believe are happening, and that I believe people are hastening.

Another MNB user wrote:

This is a debate that may go on forever on your site, so I understand if you want to limit discussion.

It seems to me most of the population mixes up Facts and Implications. Implications are assumed, and can be questioned.

Fact: Due to human behavior in the industrial age the level of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere has increased.

Implication: The temperature of the earth is increasing.

Measuring the temperature of the entire earth seems akin to taking the average of all the phone numbers in the phone book over the years - you can crunch a lot of data, identify trends, and it may not mean anything. The globe has had ice ages and hotter periods (Antarctica was a jungle at one point) without the impact of man. So are we in a natural temperature fluctuation, or are humans driving higher temperatures? The fact is, we don't really know.

But what we do know is that there is more CO2 in the atmosphere due to human behavior - and we should work to lower those levels. Will the earth cool as a result? Who knows.

I consider myself a practical environmentalist. I have been recycling for years. We use canvas bags, use our furnace and AC as little as possible, drive smaller cars etc. to try to minimize our "carbon footprint." I know I am putting less CO2 in the atmosphere, and that is the right thing to do. Even if the "invisible hand" of nature continues to increase the temperature of the earth, we will do the right thing by lowering levels of CO2.


MNB user Ron Pizur wrote:

I like to hear your views on global warming and then everyone's responses. What I can't believe is how naive people can be.

This is sort of similar to an argument I was having about religion with someone once, where I was postulating what if there was no God. His response was what does it hurt if you live a good Christian life like there is a God. When you die and maybe find out that there isn't a God after all, won't you feel better knowing that you have left the world a better place anyway.

So what does it hurt to just admit that the world is getting warmer (who can deny that glaciers and ice shelves are melting?). I mean, we can discuss, debate and argue to what extent man is contributing to global warming, but who cares about percentages, let's just admit things are changing. Now, if a few changes can be made that will make the air cleaner and possibly slow, halt or reverse global warming then couldn't we all agree to just try them? Even if our efforts don't affect global warming, doesn't the outcome of cleaner air and a prettier environment justify the change anyway. Plus if our efforts don't work we can at least say we tried to leave our children a better world and didn't bury our heads in the sand and tell the future generations that we had a good life and didn't care if they did.


And MNB user Ashlee Gossell wrote:

Those that believe that what we do does not have any impact on our planet have to step out of their cave, rub the sleep out of their eyes, and splash some oily polluted water on their face…

Not only is the science there to back it up but look around. Who is responsible for the thousands of pounds of trash pulled from our lakes and rivers, who is responsible for the factories that spill toxic gasses into the air, who is responsible for the billions of cars driven around the world that emit harmful chemicals? We are.

It is not “the plan” for this to happen to the earth, we have done this to the earth. Not intentionally of course, but because we didn’t know any better. As some one who deals with this subject matter on a daily basis, I can honestly say that this is our mess, and we are responsible for cleaning it up to the best of our ability.

It scares me to think that there are people out there that honestly do not see the global climate change and state of our environment as being our responsibility…it makes me weep for the youth of tomorrow…

Responding to my scathing comments last week about John Thain, who while he supposedly was trying to save Merrill Lynch during trying times also was spending $1.2 million to redecorate his office, one MNB user wrote:

For Merrill Lynch and former CEO John Thain, no more unsympathetic could I be to their predicament and the spiral of hypocrisy and irresponsibility they've demonstrated so blatantly.

But going through that laundry list of unnecessary expenditures and his preaching of cost/spend efficiencies to his employees, does it not remind you of the people we have serving in Washington? At least, the vast majority of them? And yet, they are the ones pointing all of the fingers, when at the same time I would love to see their expenditures over the last couple of years.

Seems like we have a huge pot of hypocrisy stew bubbling, and that to me, is very unsettling.

We really need some transparency and accountability not just within these companies like Merrill Lynch, but within our own federal government.

Transparency ought to be the law of the land. The good news is that the Obama administration keeps talking about it…and it is our job, as citizens and taxpayers, to make sure that it isn’t just talk.

Another MNB user wrote:

You and I both operate a "small Business". The IRS Code allows us to deduct business expenses that are "ordinary and necessary". What do you think would happen if we attempted to deduct as a business expense even one of these items: $87,000 area rug, four pairs of curtains $28,000, a pair of guest chairs $87,000, fabric for a 'Roman Shade $11,000, mahogany pedestal table $25,000; 19th Century Credenza $68,000; sofa $15,000; pair of guest chairs $87,000; George IV Desk $18,000; a commode on legs for $35,000."

We'd be facing penalties for tax evasion and maybe a little time in the slammer that's what.

I saw so much of this first hand in my 25 years working for a Fortune 100 company that it forever jaded my respect for the Internal Revenue Service and its legions of corporate auditors.

Congress talks about the tax gap - well I strongly suspect that this kind of extravagant spending (tax evasion) is more the norm than the exception at big corporations. Hell, it probably is rampant at high levels of government including Congressmen and Senators.

Hell, I wish I had room in my office for a credenza.

We wrote last week that China’s decision to put to death some of the people responsible for the melamine contamination of dairy products there seemed a little extreme but effective. MNB user Steve Klingman wrote:

The Chinese people in question were well aware of the severe penalties that likely awaited them should they shame their country. And yet, any checks that were in place to catch them at their deed failed. Deterrence by threat of life and liberty may work for some. There will always be people willing to risk even the most sever penalty. While imprisoning and killing people for their misdeeds is a very public (and double-edged) display, the question of how China will monitor the safety of its food supply – in practice, not just in words -- both for internal and external consumption, remains.


Another MNB user chimed in:

Whether I lived in a totalitarian or democratic society, and I laced food with a toxic chemical killing several people, wouldn’t you expect me to pay for my greed with my life?

Depends on what state you live in.

Got the following email from a faithful (but possibly delusional) MNB user:

>b>I have been reading all of your commentary on this issue and agree whole-heartedly that the FTC is wasting our tax dollars. I agree that there is no lack of competition in the area of Organics offered to the general public. The removal of Wild Oats in the marketplace has not hampered the availability, selection, nor raised the prices of Organics available to the consumer.

By forcing Whole Foods to undo the merger, it will likely cause Whole Foods to become less than competitive and possibly financially unstable. Such actions by the FTC could likely cause Whole Foods to go into bankruptcy and that would probably lead to a lawsuit against the FTC. The cost of all of this to the American Taxpayer is ridiculous.

How long can we tolerate this level of misguidance in our government?

You say: "This may be good for people like me, who rant for a living. But I can’t see how it is good for anyone else."

I ask you this: If you think that ranting is a good living, then why is it that your ranting has not influenced those that need to be changed?

I will be sending my nomination of Kevin Coupe as the new "Food Czar" to Mr. Obama.

Let's put some REAL CHANGE into the area we talk about daily.

I appreciate your confidence, but I’m not sure I’d pass the vetting.

But I’ll promise you this – the Senate confirmation hearings will be hugely entertaining.

(Think Woody Allen’s last line in “The Front”.)

Finally, I joked last week that I was astounded to find out that I had 120 bottles of wine in my basement…and that this means that I’m ready to weather the recession. Which led one MNB user to respond:

You mean the recession will only last 60 days?

Good point. I was being optimistic.

Time to hit the wine store…
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