A long accepted maxim in business has been that "if you cannot measure it, you can't manage it." Thus i follows that, if a problem can't be seen either, then it is less likely to be tackled. Fortunately, where climate change is concerned, we no longer lack reliable and accurate measures of the daily volume of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere from human activity, nor the growing concentrations of CO2.A group of bankers, no less, has spent over a million dollars ensuring that we remain in ignorance no longer.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Thanks to the efforts of one branch of Deutsche Bank (the Asset Management Branch as lead by Kevin Parker), the world has a daily reminder that our generation of greenhouse gases continues to climb at an alarming rate - in fact, at a rate of 800 metric tonnes per second or 2 billion tons per month, to be precise - despite all the hot air produced by political leaders at various international summits!
On June 18th, 2009, Deutsche Asset Bank unveiled a new indicator in the form of an electronic billboard in downtown New York that shows the current accumulation of Greenhouse Gas emissions in the atmosphere. It provides a stark reminder that the problem of emissions isn't going away. At the moment of the unveiling and switching on, the number,
3.642 trillion tonnes of GHG flashed on the side of an illuminated building and has been growing ever since.
The "number" on the Carbon Counter is based on MIT measurements of all 24 long-lived greenhouse gases covered under the Kyoto and Montreal protocols.
Surrounded by the bright lights and associated emissions of the buildings and displays in downtown Manhattan, the Counter is considered "carbon neutral" through the use of carbon credits and low energy light emitting diodes.
Readers are encouraged to keep an eye on "The Number" here or download the "Know the Number" widget to watch how fast that staggering number is rising. (Between the launch date of June 18th and today, the counter recorded an increase of over 2.5 billion tons) The widget can be obtained here.
It's encouraging to see how the bastions of capitalism now link addressing climate change, and pricing carbon with economic growth. As the following quote indicates, they also recognize that there is a moral imperative and are not afraid to identify with it:
"Climate change is not only about challenges and opportunities, it is also about responsibility, responsibility vis-à-vis our shareholders, our customers, the society we operate in. And let's not forget - the next generation. It is also about leadership, and sometimes leadership demands taking actions even if they appear a little more expensive in the short-term. Source here.
Given that the travel and tourism community has traditionally followed mainstream business in application of business principles and methods, isn't it time that it stop delaying full scale commitment to carbon neutrality on the ground while the airlines figure out how to transport its customers using less carbon intensive methods? So congratulations and thank you Deutsche Bank!
Note: it doesn't always take the finances of a global banking institution to make an impact. A lone individual can also contribute to raising awareness. A British Columbia resident, one Michael McGee, Larbon Solutions has developed another important indicator the The CO2 meter which is available from CO2Now.
His company has developed and made available a range of widgets that can be embedded on web sites, blogs etc to raise awareness of the growing concentrations of carbon in our atmosphere. HIs site also offers loads of useful information on the science in accessible language and positive ideas for addressing the problem. We comment on why such meters contribute to a much needed ecological literacy in Keeping Your Eye on the Ball.