The best place to work as a climatologist (if you’re not going to sell out altogether) is at an oil-intensive geophysics institute. BP bought me free pizza yesterday, and today I’m getting free barbecue lunch from Devon Energy.
There was a certain amount of what some of you would call “greenwashing” yesterday and there may be some more today. I’ll have more to say about the BP presentation that went with the pizza. In many ways it was impressive.
I think people think about corporations wrong, both within corporations and outside them. Corporations are not going away. Social pressures on corporations probably don’t suffice but they do make a difference.
All it cost them is two slices of Domino’s pepperoni for me to think about making that case. Even modest humanity from a corporation pays off. I think of BP as a collection of people, while many of my readers think of BP as a rapacious, hostile machine. Well, it’s a corporation. That means it’s both. How to make the corporation act in the best interests of the world while it acts in the best interests of the shareholders is the puzzle. The solution is probably subtle and complex, but the instruments we have to implement it (the press, the web, 19th century governments and 17th century legal traditions) are coarse and clumsy even when they aren’t broken. Increasingly, they are broken; on questions of sustainability spectacularly so.
The trouble is that the corporations themselves are the least broken part of the picture. Bashing at them until they are just as broken as everything else doesn’t seem like the way to go.