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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I can hold my tongue no longer

I recently saw "An Inconvenient Truth" and sent an article to Scoop.co.nz - who published the following guest opinion:

I have just seen "An Inconvenient Truth" by Al Gore, and I can hold my tongue no longer ...

Science tells the truth dispassionately. But often it it the role of business to be gate-keeper to those truths.
Science told us that tobacco was dangerous long before business accepted this and moved to change anything.
Science told us the ozone layer was a problem. After years of denial, business followed.
Science told and is telling us that global warming is a problem. Out of 928 peer-reviewed articles, not one of them disputed the global scientific consensus on global warming.

There are those who will say it is not the role of business to get involved in politics, for this is business-suicide.
There are those who will say that if we want to save the world, then a business is not the right vehicle.
There are those who will say that businesses are part of the problem.

But business is part of the solution too, climate change is no longer a simple political issue but a moral one, and it is the role of business to follow the scientific truth in changing times. That means making sure that issues of global catastrophe are not only talked about in scientific circles, focus groups and green party meetings - but throughout the entire community.

If all I can say in 20 years time to my daughter who asks me what I was busy doing while the polar icecaps were melting was "making money" - then I have failed as a father, as a businessman and as a human being who understands the basic concept of brotherhood and sisterhood.

Why does business not speak out on this issue more? I believe this will change. Perhaps it is fear of ridicule from our peers. Perhaps it is because the shareholder structure of companies leaves us in a position where anything other than maximizing profits tomorrow is greeted with cynicism from shareholders. Perhaps it is just because we are not yet used to speaking out on things that really matter, and are vocal chords are a little rusty.

So if you think this blog-entry is out of place, I challenge you to first watch "An Inconvenient Truth". If you still hold the same opinion - then email me and let me know why you don't think this is worth shouting about.

If you think this blog-entry could be better and more scientifically put by a scientist - then you are undoubtedly correct. Forgive me, for the vocal chords of my conscience are a little rusty, but they will improve with practice

If you think that this message resonates, then let people know about it, particularly to people who are not already thinking about this, or who believe because of media mis-reporting that there is debate in the scientific community about whether climate change is real, when this is categorically not the case. Send it on, not because it is remarkable in its content, for it is not, but because the message and the mouth behind the message are an unusual combination that suggests the whole world, even the ardent entrepreneurs and business minds like myself, are starting to get concerned about what we are participating in allowing to happen to our planet.

We have just started an initiative to make the company carbon neutral, starting with announcing a policy of 3/2 work/home tele-working to reduce carbon emissions, provide more flexibility to employees, and allow a better balance of team-time and solo-working on a focussed project. This is just the start.

Daniel Batten

Concerned human, father
Chief Executive Officer, Biomatters Ltd
Auckland
New Zealand
http://www.biomatters.com
http://www.geneious.com

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