Ethical Business

Why We Do It

She's Alive... Beautiful... Finite... Hurting... Worth Dying for. - Bittu Sahgal

The science is well-established, climate change is real and human activity is the primary cause.

The concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the earth’s atmosphere is directly linked to the average global temperature on Earth, and since the Industrial Revolution, both measurements have been steadily rising.

The most abundant of these GHGs is carbon dioxide, which is primarily the product of burning fossil fuels, especially through energy intensive industrial manufacturing processes.

Should global temperatures increase by another 1.5°C, the effects of climate change will become increasingly severe.

At 2°C, we could witness:

Over 10 million people affected by sea level rises by 2100
Iceless summers in the Artic Ocean every decade
Global sea levels rising by at least one metre
The death of 70-99% of the world's coral reefs
View infographic

Lloyd George

Who is the landlord? The landlord is a gentleman... who does not earn his wealth. He does not even take the trouble to receive his wealth. He has a host of agents and clerks to receive it for him. He does not even take the trouble to spend his wealth. He has a host of people around him to do the actual spending for him. He never sees it until he comes to enjoy it. His sole function, his chief pride, it stately consumption of wealth produced by others. What about the doctor's income? How does the doctor earn his income? The doctor is a man who visits our homes when they are darkened with the shadow of death: who, by his skill, his trained courage, his genius, wrings hope out of the grip of despair, wins life out of the fangs of the Great Destroyer. All blessings upon him and his divine art of healing that mends bruised bodies and anxious hearts. To compare the reward which he gets for that labour with the wealth which pours into the pockets of the landlord, purely owing to the possession of his monopoly, is a piece if, they will forgive me for saying so, of insolence which no intelligent man would tolerate.

An optimist's view from the edge of the abyss

What is the link between malicious computer hackers, pollution-spewing power stations, bird flu and complex financial products? All pose potential threats to the planet, its climate and inhabitants that no single government could tackle alone. Collectively, they provide doomsters with reasons why the 21st century could be as blighted by war, plague and economic depression as in the first half of the 20th.

Hackers can plant Trojan horses in computers on the other side of the world, Climate change pits poor nations against the rich, big business against environmentalists. In the run-up to the financial crisis, collateralized debt obligations "played the role of the pathogen". Flu pandemics, spread by globe-trotting humans carrying treatment-resistant viruses, could pose still greater dangers.

Crucially, global networks have created ways of mobilising popular opinion as a force for change and correcting deficits in governance - whether enabling the Arab uprisings or advancing gay rights and environmental sustainability. As Goldin says: While connectivity puts us in greater danger by empowering our would-be aggressors, it simultaneously empowers individuals with positive and more benevolent aims... vital to addressing the challenges of the 21st century." This book's contribution to the policy makers' lexicon is the idea of "genius unlocked", by which hyper connectivity brings together concerned, intelligent people. Globalisation provides unrivalled opportunities to collaborate, innovate and leverage popular pressure for action. The World may yet avoid catastrophe.

Ralph Atkins Financial Times capital markets editor

I believe that the most important things to do are research based. It is important to free ourselves from the need for oil - wind and even waves won't really do it. A functional fuel cell would be liberation! I think the Americans will invent it soon and until then most efforts are re-arranging the deck-chairs &c....

I should, however, be more circumspect in having opinions about things far from my own experience (as you will already be muttering) I do think its great to reduce pollution, if only for life enhancing reasons - fresh air, clean rivers & lakes put a smile on the world's face. Climate change just might be a bigger matter. Disobliging old curmudgeon Bath March 2013

There seems to be a general consensus that the Arctic will be free of summer ice within decades for the first time in 3,000,000 years. That is a far more impressive number than the billions being talked about in the vain attempt to stave off the consequences of 30 years of greed, consumption and governmental mismanagement.

Companies like interface have shown the goal for all corporations....with Ray Anderson an inspirational visionary.

Climate change from human activity represent the consensus from thousands of scientists round the world. All the leading universities and institutions. The US National academy of sciences, founded by Abraham Lincoln was asked by George Bush to review the issue to check if the science was sound. They said the science was sound. National academies of Science of all major nations have reviewed the science the found it to be right. The Stern report was commissioned by the UK government and it makes frightening reading.


Greenhouse-gas emissions in 2000, by source

Source: Prepared by Stern Review, from data drawn from the World Resources Institute Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT) on-line database version 3.0

A global population that was 1 billion in 1800 and 4 billion in 1980 will probably have grown to 10 billion by the end of this century; the demand for food will have doubled by 2050; food production already accounts for 30% of greenhouse gases - more than manufacturing or transport; more food needs more land, especially when the food is meat; more fields mean fewer forests, which means even more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which means an even less stable climate, which means less reliable agriculture - witness the present grain crisis in the US.

It takes 3,000 litres of water to make a burger and the UK eats 10bn burgers a year. A world population of 10 billion will need 960 new dams, each of them the size of the world's largest in China's Three Gorges, plus 15,000 nuclear power stations and/or 11m wind farms. The great objective of intergovernmental action, such as it is, has been to restrict the rise in average global temperature to no more than 2C, but a growing body of research suggests a warming by 6C is becoming more and more likely. The world will become "a complete hellhole" riven by conflict, famine, flood and drought. Go to a climate change conference these days and as well as all the traditional attendees there will usually be a small detachment of the forward-looking military.

What's to be done? The rational optimists believe that, faced with the species' near extinction, human inventiveness will engineer a solution. Desalination plants, a new green revolution, seeding the oceans with iron filings to absorb more CO2: all of these threaten to produce as many problems as they solve. We need to have far fewer children and consume less. How much less? A lot less; two sheets of toilet paper rather than three, a Prius instead of a Range Rover - that kind of sacrifice won't really do it. Are we capable of making this necessarily far bigger curb on our desires? Not really?

If a large asteroid were on course to the Earth and we knew when and where it would hit - say France in 2022 - then every government would marshal its scientific resources to find ways of altering the asteroid's path or mitigating its damage. But there is no asteroid. The problem is us.


Researchers at the Potsdam Institute in Germany estimate that, to keep the chances of exceeding two degrees to 20% or less, between 2000 and 2050 the world can afford to release no more than 886 billion tons of carbon dioxide. As we produced 321 billion tons between 2000 and 2010, that leaves only 565 billion for the next 40 years.


Climate Denialists would be remembered as villains.


Corporate lobbying poisons all democratic politics. The threat of climate change has so far done little to disrupt the fossil fuel companies?business plans, or their grip on policy.


The paranoid, petty, unilateralist sabotage of international agreements continues uninterrupted. To see Obama backtracking on the commitments made by Bush the elder 20 years ago is to see the extent to which a tiny group of plutocrats has asserted its grip on policy.