Tag Archives: profit

Merry Apocalypse

Termipeitto: The End is Nigh

Christmas is a time for family, tradition, good food and coming together to remember what is important in life. Right? Wrong! Christmas has been hijacked by the Dark Side and now is ‘the retail event of the year’ or, put another way, the peak of the annual consumption calendar, or, put another way, exactly what is killing the biosphere.

We used to bring plants and greenery into the house as part of a pagan nature worship ceremony. Now we chop the tree down, stack imported plastic tat under it and when we are done throw the lot into the bin. Well it seems sometimes you get what you pay for because our perversion of christmas, like our perversion of life in general is a one way ticket to oblivion. We are hungry ghosts and our desperate attempts to be fulfilled by consumption is a drawn out mass suicide.

kaboom1976: Crashmas

“Gather round children, Daddy has re-morgaged the house and bought a bundle of goodies…  stuff your ears with tissues so you don’t hear the wails as we gouge out nature’s eyes. Watch these cartoons so you don’t see us dig up nature’s sacred heart and impale it on the shopping mall’s spire. Stop crying children! This is what we wanted! Wasn’t it!?”

This festive season the suicide economy works like this: disposable products are manufactured in the East; shipped to the West, sold, and then disposed of. Then the vast ships return empty to do it all again, all the while burning millions of tonnes of precious oil .

The relationship between China and the United States says it all. Last year the USA spent $455 billion over christmas. The biggest retailer in the USA is Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart buys 91% of their consumer goods in China (no surprise the US trade deficit is currently $440 trillion). In order to get these across the Pacific Wal-Mart have had built some of the largest vessels this planet has ever seen.

Emma-Maersk: the world's biggest container vessel

These vast, incredibly fast ships (31 knots ) were commissioned by Wal-Mart for the sole purpose of getting all their goods from China . They hold 15,000 containers.  Longer than a US Aircraft Carrier (which has a crew of 5,000) the full crew of these emblems of our era is just 13 people on a ship. These behemoths are emblematic of the consumer culture we have created which is feeding off the living fabric of our planet. They are totally juxtaposed to a sustainable economy.

Christmas presents on route

Globalization has shrunk the mighty Pacific down to an earthly river Styx. Charon, the ferryman of Hades, now uses Maersk to transport death and the money isn’t a coin in the eye but digital transactions wired at the speed of light between banks that would collapse were it not for the billions we pay in tax; handed them by governments because they are ‘too big to fail’ (Check the video below: Taming the Vampire Squid). The whole system is a self-perpetuating rip-off and it is all driven by good-old, trustworthy, consumer demand… so keep watching those adverts… and buy, BUY, BUY!!

This is one of three ships  presently in service, with another two ships commissioned to be completed in 2012. Aside from destroying local, sustainable economies the major catch here is that the annual carbon emissions of Maersk is 40-50 million tonnes of CO2,  which, by coincidence, is the same as its country of origin, Denmark!

Greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping currently account for around 3% of total global emissions and are predicted to grow fast in the future. Indeed, all the world’s governments are working hard to boost this trade because this is how they measure their success… economic growth. You have to feel sorry for the hapless ‘negotiators’ trying to square that circle in Cancun… or perhaps they know the whole thing is a joke. Governments have just found another arena in which to compete for resources.

So, this christmas, think of Jesus and keep shopping like crazed little robots and when the Apocalypse comes early don’t be surprised… we sponsored it.

Advertisements

For brands, green = transparent

St Petersburg

Climate change awareness has crossed a tipping point. This discussion has shifted from ‘is it going to happen?’ to ‘what will the impacts be and how can we best respond?’ Enlightened business leaders understand that reducing their environmental impacts shouldn’t be an additional cost, tacked on to their operations but an integral part of their business strategy. The reasons are manifold; reducing emissions improves business efficiency; builds brand loyalty (consumer and investor) and motivates employees. All of which increase the bottom line. Putting money into environmental performance is no longer a cost; it is an investment.

Green Dollar?As consumer, investor and legislatory pressure build the return on investment of reducing impacts increases. This is an opportunity few companies can afford to miss. For a company to position itself as green it must be able to back up claims with evidence. Just reducing emissions by 20% isn’t good enough anymore; that’s standard practice in a warming world. Consumers want to have confidence that brands have a bullet proof sustainable and ethical approach.

Transforming a company so that it is socially and environmentally acceptable requires vision, strong leadership, innovation and good management. For companies without these skills ‘green washing’ can be a seductive option. Green washing describes the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service. It is easily detectable when it is clear that a company has spent more money on eco communications then eco implementation. Familiar examples are chemical homecare products with ‘natural’ branding or oil companies whose advertising focuses on renewable energy whilst their underlying business model remains the same (or worse).

Green washing is not a successful strategy for companies to pursue. Firstly, it puts off making changes that will be necessary at some point. This delay gives competitors a head start in innovation and effective differentiation as an environmental choice. Secondly, it risks damaging consumer and investor faith in the brand should the disparity between green claims and performance become known. Once broken, trust is hard to rebuild and people are already cynical; four in five people believe that many companies pretend to be ethical just to sell more products.  Any claims must be genuine and provable. Ethical dialema

It is a sounder strategy for a company to invest in environmental performance rather then exaggerated green claims. Today, consumers, employees and stakeholders are increasingly engaged in ongoing, 2-way relationships with brands. For example, the evolution of the internet has meant that popular brand websites listen as well as talk. Indeed for many leading brands user driven content makes up an increasing component of their sites. For example the interactive sections of these websites of Howies, Timberland and lush. The more ethical a company the more comfortable it will be entering into a dialogue with its customers.

Web 1.0 saw the development of content. For brands this was a new communication channel with which to talk to consumers. Web 2.0 saw the development of web platform’s on which users can participate, upload exchange, share and generate content. For brands this was an opportunity to open a dialogue.  Web 3.0 sees the devolution of content management shift further towards users. Increasingly all consumers will continuously rate content meaning that the internet is shaped by what people value. Successful brands will increasingly be co created by consumers.

Business on a networked planet is different. It is becoming harder for companies to operate behind closed doors and with people providing real-time feedback on performance a misstep can be costly. One just needs to Google a brand name to find out what has been posted about the brand by satisfied or unsatisfied consumers. With access to more information then ever at the click of a mouse a company dumping toxic waste in Africa (e.g. Trafigura) or destroying pristine rainforest in Indonesia (e.g. Fonterra) or attempting to “ethnically cleanse two of the world’s last remaining uncontacted tribes” in the Amazon  (e.g. Perenco) can be globally shamed in minutes. Transparency has become the golden rule for successful operations. Deforestation

For businesses to create value without eroding natural systems the best approach is to embark upon an honest journey to sustainability with consumers and investors on board. Transparency, interdependency and interconnectedness are defining characteristics of both the evolving internet and the coming ecological age. So shitty companies run by blood-sucking scumbags who want to slice up what’s left of the biosphere and sell it at the highest price beware… your days are numbered. Dr. Evil

Oil on the Brain, review of There Will be Blood

Oil on the Brain

Oil on the Brain

This visceral, poignant, haunting behemoth of a movie takes no prisoners. It is simultaneously an unrelenting portrait of an evil man and the documenting of a period of history in which the world changed forever.

Drilling for oil is an inherently violent business. Man build’s giant machines to invade the earth and draw out the fossilized remains of organisms that existed millennia ago. The violence of their resurrection is matched by the fearful depths the prospectors will sink to within themselves to reach the black gold. The dark, seemingly limitless wealth in the belly of the earth is like the limitless evil we can draw on should we be so motivated.

Our antihero, Plainview, is tormented and evil yet presents himself as an honest family man, an `oil man’. This draws an unbroken connection between the dark insanity of the early days of oil and the republican oil men today who also are steeped in blood whilst professing Christian family values. More than this, that these wild, violent times are the immediate foundation of our culture throws our `civilization’ into sharp relief.

Finding this cheap almost limitless source of energy under our feet propelled humanity on an expansive projection that would subjugate much of the living world. We have changed our planet using oil powered technologies. If we ever needed reminding that this happened without a master plan this film is it. It is in a frenzied state that we have transformed our society into raging fire, fuelled by fossil fuel that is consuming the rest of the biosphere.

Emerging from the misery of oil exploration, with the greed and avarice, danger and death, presented with the back drop of a changing planet, with oil wars raging, we have this starkly beautiful film. This honest work of art allows us to see not just our own story but the interior workings of the mind of the species that sits atop the apex of life on this planet. At worst, we are stupid, bald monkeys on a collision course with extinction. But there is beauty on the road to oblivion; the dark horror the film describes is juxtaposed with the creative genius of the making of the film. It is humanities creative abilities that make existence worthwhile. Maybe there is hope.