3.24.2008

WORDS THAT WARM MY CAPITALIST, EARTH-LOVING HEART

Did you catch the Journal's special section today on business and the environment? If you didn't, here are my two favorite blurbs:

1. When asked why he was so aggressively pursuing environmentally friendly technologies - was it out of a personal concern for the earth, or maybe it's good PR - GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt said, "I work for investors. I'm a capitalist and I'm a businessman." And as for the inevitability of a carbon cap or tax: "The day it becomes law, you're five years late. And you either get out ahead of these things or you get stomped by them." In other words, GE is in the business of making and selling things that will make them a profit. And that is completely consistent with, not counter to, a business approach that does the most for the environment.

2. When asked if his customers would be willing to pay more for products that were better for the environment, Walmart CEO Lee Scott said, "Our question is, why should they have to? If you can take the waste out, if you can take the cost out, and you can provide people who are working people living paycheck to paycheck with an opportunity to be more sustainable, we think they will react to that, and they do." In other words, Walmart was founded on the principle of squeezing out inefficiency to provide the customer with the lowest price and best value possible. And that is completely consistent with, not counter to, a business approach that does the most for the environment.

As an aside, none other than uber-VC John Doerr was interviewed about environmental technology plays he was looking into. Noting that cow manure contributes to about 18 percent of greenhouse gases, he made a cryptic comment about farms in California's Central Valley, after which the interviewer deadpanned: "We know where the traffic is moving after this conference." So to my sister and my brother-in-law who are thinking about buying a house in Merced, buy soon!
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