Climate Change…Discussing the Issues

I have been working in the cleaning industry for over 30 years and like any parent or perhaps grandparent, I am personally proud of my industry’s work on Green Cleaning and the advances we have made protecting worker and occupant health while reducing impacts on the environment. And perhaps what is most exciting is that our industry includes a lot of really smart people who collectively have figured out how to use the marketplace to drive innovation. We have proven that Green Cleaning is good and smart business.

Over that period of time I have written, spoken and presented webinars a combined total exceeding 1,000 times on Green issues. The approach has always focused on sound science while recognizing that there is so much we still don’t know. We also worked hard to understand the different values, tradeoffs and interests of the various people and organizations invested in our industry. And again, I think we have collectively done extremely well.

But no issue has been so politically and emotionally charged as climate change. In the past when I have written about climate change, I have received nasty and insulting emails from people who I otherwise consider my friends and colleagues. These emails have attacked me personally, questioned my intelligence, and some have even suggested harm to me personally or my business. Frankly it makes me very sad.

So for those who believe that climate change is hogwash, a communist plot, an effort of self-serving treehuggers — please read no further. But for those who are willing to accept what 98% of global climatologists have agreed, this issue of DestinationGreen will provide plenty of interesting information on the issue.

In May, the U.S. Global Change Research Program released the Third National Climate Assessment, the most comprehensive, authoritative, transparent scientific report on U.S. climate change impacts ever generated. The report confirms that climate change is affecting every region of the country and key sectors of the U.S. economy and society. And in this edition of DestinationGreen there are a number of great articles with lots of specific information that I think you’ll find interesting. I sure did. Read more

One of the more interesting things I took away from the report was the people who were supporting it. Not only did it include the typical suspects such as the scientists and environmentalists, but it was supported by industry executives and military leaders who recognize the need to plan for all contingencies.

For example, what happens to our Navy if the ocean rises by 10 feet? What will this do to our Navy bases both in the US and around the world? How should we plan infrastructure and accommodate our citizens who get dislodged by a rising ocean or by extended droughts that could make some farming and other areas less inhabitable? And what are the political and financial implications for communities in the US who would have to deal with “refugees” who have to relocate due to changing climate? Again, these concerns were expressed by our military leaders and as business leaders shouldn’t we also consider the risks and put plans in place for our own business, families and communities?

Beyond the military, among those expressing concerns and planning accordingly are a wide range of companies such as Gap, HP and Dr Pepper Snapple Group who are among the S&P 500 companies facing climate change related risks and costs including damage to facilities, reduced product demand, lost productivity and necessitated write-offs, often with price tags reaching millions of dollars. Read more

Changing how we do things is imperative AND frankly it is good business regardless of one’s political affiliation.

There are many things that we can do that are extremely profitable and we can demonstrate that we aren’t a bunch of nut jobs and lunatics. Rather as good business people, sound scientists and conscientious human beings trying to make an important contribution to the future of our industry, country and planet.

So let’s stop the arguing and please, no nasty emails. The science really is quite conclusive. I recognize that there is NOT 100% consensus on climate change, but 98% is as close as it gets. And I believe that the cleaning industry will do its part to demonstrate that preparation, innovation and hard work will be the formula for future success.

Steve