So, as you can see, we recently redesigned our Web site, and while I was sorting through the old stories trying to make them presentable in this new format, I ran across our January 2004 Executive Forecast, which included a list of "humorous" reasons the environment would decline in 2004. It was meant to be sort of a lark, something to take the edge off the seriousness of the rest of the article.

And, now for an opinion with a humorous twist:
Top Ten Reasons the Environment Will Decline in 2004
By Hal Alper

10. Runaway consumerism
9. Continued dependence on hydrocarbons
8. Countries which believe that whale research is best conducted over a hot grill with a little wasabi on the side
7. Export of manufacturing to polluting countries
6. Two words: Dub-ya
5. Genetically engineered food and seeds
4. People who consume parts of endangered species in order to enhance their sagging virility
3. Drug companies that supply Viagra instead of AZT to third world countries
2. More intense storms caused by green house warming
1. Rush Limbaugh returns from rehab

Now, it is pretty funny. And four years ago, some of these things even seemed sort of silly, but then, the more I thought about it, the more it took on a serious tone. Let's look at a couple of these items more closely.

Runaway consumerism is sort of what's spawned this fascination with "carbon footprints," no? It seems like we're starting to consider our outrageously materialistic approach to our lives in a way we never have before. Take a look around your house at the things you've bought in the last year…now think about how much energy, etc. it took to get those things where they are. It's a little self-indulgent, huh? Is it irresponsible? Maybe, but who am I to judge; I certainly don't live out in the country and make my own clothes and grow my own food (well, I try to grow my own food, but that's another story for another day).

What about number nine: hydrocarbons? Well, Exxon-Mobil made $12 billion in the final quarter of 2007, more than any company has ever made in three months…ever -- enough said.

Whale research? Of all the items on the list, this one seemed the silliest, and in fact it's the one that really prompted me to write this entry. To you and I, (hopefully) the idea of huge whaling vessels setting sail seems like something out of a 19th century novel, but in Nov. 2007, the Japanese whaling fleet left port with the stated goal of killing 1,000 whales (including some that are flat-out endangered) under the guise of research. Meanwhile, this NPR report examines the fact that the Japanese just really like to eat whale.

Export of manufacturing to polluting countries? This one has been going on for a while, but it's really starting to catch up with us. Not only are the countries we've asked to manufacture our goods polluting their own backyards, but they're sending a bunch of it back here. I have a sinking feeling that tainted toys, dog food, and tooth pastes are only the beginning.

I could go on, and on…and on, but I won't. We all know that this once-silly list isn't so silly anymore (well, maybe Rush doesn't have a direct affect, but I like to imagine that, on the days he's not in rehab, he drives two Hummers and burns tires in his backyard just to make a point, but I digress…).

So, I can't resist, even at the risk of tempting fate -- what should this year's "humorous" list include? Maybe to counterbalance it, anyone care to take a stab at ways the environment might improve? It is an election year, after all.


PS. We're still working on the new Web site, and once we finish, I hope this column will be become a regular blog. But in the meantime, I'd love for you to send me your comments. Just click on the link below and send me an email. I'll post comments at the bottom of this page every couple of days as I receive them.


Posted by Jason Goodman on Mar 25, 2008

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