May 20, 2009

Why Business Leaders Need to Get Over Al Gore

[A new post on my Harvard Business column -- some interesting commentary there]

I saw an interesting piece by Michael Graham Richard on treehugger titled, "Let's Put This Meme to Rest: Global Warming — Al Gore" (thanks to Will Sarni for tweeting it to me). It seems like a perfectly obvious point, but one that I agree needs to be repeated. And it's a point that I've been making in subtle, and not-so-subtle ways, everywhere I can in recent months.

I speak to business people from a very wide range of sectors and quite often to groups that are self-identified as conservative. I find myself facing real skepticism on climate change (and real dislike of Mr. Gore). I don't really spend time debating or presenting the science, though. I just try to impress on business people to accept one irrefutable point: climate change is now a political and business reality, regardless of what you think about the scientific merits. (By the way, it is actually a reality reality also — see this unheralded story about some of the first climate refugees but never mind.)

Unfortunately, in the United States in particular, the discussion on climate change has gotten wrapped up in political affiliation. And that's due in large part to the role Al Gore has played. He's done more than anybody on the planet to raise awareness of this serious issue. But for many Americans who don't like Gore or his political party, his role as the unofficial spokesperson for climate change has tainted the discussion. It's something I understand, but wish people could get past. Why are we unable to separate the medium from the message? After all, Attila the Hun could give the Gore's Inconvenient Truth presentation and the information presented would still be true.

But at any rate, from a strategy perspective, none of this really matters — and that's what I'm consistently trying to convey to business people

See the rest of this column here

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