More from DLD – How Green is My Company?

This isn’t specifically about mobile, but it does affect mobile businesses, as well as every other business - as well as every person on the planet, so please excuse the slight digression.

I wrote earlier in the week about attending the DLD conference in Munich, which is probably one of the leading new and old media events in Europe. The final speaker, was James Murdoch, the young boss of Sky TV and the fruit of Sir Rupert’s loins. He was speaking about an apparently unlikely subject, namely Climate Change. This was followed by a panel discussion of learned scientists and a big wig from BMW.

[As a slight aside, I wonder why they kept including these “old” companies in the panels, like Lufthansa, BMW and even HP, as they seldom had much of interest to say or contribute in the context of the discussion. I mean, neither would Ester Dyson be very interesting to hear about car manufacturing and so I doubt if she gets invited to many of their conferences either.]

Anyway, it struck me quite forcefully that in the last year, Global Warming has moved from a pretty fringe theory to an indisputable and mainstream belief, held by business leaders, politicians and large parts of the population.

I describe it as a belief, because like any such thing, you need to have faith to accept the evidence and it’s far from conclusive in my limited understanding of the situation. The earth goes through natural warming and cooling periods and it has always been thus. We’re actually still in an Ice Age in fact, as the definition of a non-Ice Age is when there’s no polar ice caps and thus the seas rise.

One of the scientists showed a map of Italy in the Pleistocene period to show what it looked like when there are no ice caps – it’s a series of Islands basically, a bit like the Greek Islands. This was meant to say “look – this is what’ll happen if we don’t change” but another way of looking at this is to say “look, this is going to happen again, just as it’s happened before – deal with it”.

Michael Crichton, he of Jurassic Park fame and pretty into New Age stuff himself, is one of the biggest sceptics about global warming being a man-made phenomenon and he’s studied this subject exhaustively and is a trained scientist to boot. in his book, State of Fear
, he calls Global Warming a pseudoscience and compares it to¬†the Eugenics movement in the 1920’s and 30’s, which was a widely supported theory, and which was questioned by very few and opposed by even less and ultimately¬†culminated in Adolph Hitler’s Final Solution.¬†

However, let’s not be picky about this. I can’t see any harm in believing in global warming, unlike say, if a significant number of people suddenly start to believe that it’s acceptable to blow yourself up in a train full of other people because they believe in a different version of an ancient best selling book or that their God has told them that they should invade another sovereign nation and it’s OK to justify it by lying to the world about the justification.

No, believing in global warming doesn’t seem to have a downside. It’ll save energy, be better for the planet we call home and hopefully allow us all to appreciate more the wonder of the world around us – all good things.

Anyway, my main point is that whther you approve of the evidence or not, a significant proportion of the population, including our leaders KNOW that global warming is true now and we need to be aware of this trend. Companies will increasingly be eager to emphasise their Greenness and force their carbon neutrality (if they can achieve this) down our throats. And many people are going to start taking into account green issues when making purchasing decisions.

Climate Change is going to be one of the most important single issues in politics and business in the next 50 years and you’d better take note and act, or you’ll suffer.

James Murdoch’s Sky actually has been doing a lot to boost their contribution to this issue. For example, they’ve given all their customers energy efficient light bulbs to sample, in an initiative they sponsored with Ikea. If only half are ever used, it’ll save their customers £120 million. They also give their staff £1300 cash back if they buy a hybrid car, interest free loans to buy bikes and have launched hundreds of small initiatives to become better corporate citizens. It’s the small things that add up to make the big difference.

David de Rothschild, another panellist, made the point that we spent $300 billion on preventing the Millennium Bug being an issue – was that another belief, rather than scientific fact? If the US spent this kind of money on this area, they’d cut carbon emissions by 25%, which is far, far greater than the amount that Bush baulked at in Kyoto. Although, again I’m strongly suspicious the science behind this claim. I mean, will $300 billion lead to 25% savings, or 25.1% or 10.3% or even 53.7% РI strongly suspect that the 25% is just a pure guess, but would be happy to be told otherwise.


Another parallel is that the cost of the Iraq war has already cost well over $300 billion according to this website, which means that if it’s true, the US could have cut carbon emissions by 25%, which even the most ardent hawk would probably have to admit would be slightly better for the planet than what has actually been achieved so far. It also shows that where the political will exists, the money can be found.


James also made the point that the media were suddenly behind this issue too, quoting one reactionary newspaper headline forecasting a “Mosquito Epidemic” as being imminent – I wonder if that’s one of his Dad’s headlines? This raises two points for me though.

Firstly, why do we have to be bullied and frightened into taking this subject seriously? What’s wrong with saying that we’re custodians of the Earth and we should act responsibly? But if that’s what it really takes for us to act, maybe the end does justify the means.

The other interesting thing is that if warming happens and we can’t do anything about it, a mosquito epidemic is certainly a possible side effect. This has fundamental consequences actually, as the mosquito is by far the most dangerous species for man in the history of the world. Of the 50 billion people who have ever lived, the mosquito is reckoned to have killed about half of them, by transmitting various infections from Aids to malaria and in primitive societies, just through simply blood infection. Oliver Cromwell is thought to be the last person killed in Britain in this way, so it is actually potentially a global issue.

Sky also launched a campaign inviting viewers to create their own video (see? – user generated content again) and I thought you’d find this one amusing, by way of light relief.

Finally, I know I’ve been a little sceptical about some of the thinking behind this subject, but that’s because I don’t like being manipulated and I think we should question what our leaders want us to believe. However, let me emphasise that I thoroughly support the central issue of taking better care of our environment and behaving more responsibly.

So, let’s look at the little things we can do – starting with things like turning off our computers and TVs at night. Every little helps.

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