分类存档: 环境

我对环境问题的思索 — 如全球变暖, 碳排放, 以及收入差距和贫困.

Troubled Conscience

At times I suffer from a troubled conscience. I get this sinking feeling that I am part of a large problem rather than a solution to it. Working for a modern corporate empire, a bank to boot, it is hard to avoid this feeling — if you feel anything at all.

Then I found a straw to grasp at. It was an observation made by Mohamed El-Erian, CEO of Pimco, on Hardtalk with Stephen Sackur. In response to a direct question, he said that the “Occupy Wall Street” guys had a point. Old Stevie was not going to miss a trick like that. He pounced, “Are you, you the head of a hedge fund managing over a trillion dollars, the epitome of modern capitalism, admitting that the system is flawed? Are you going to stop what you are doing?” (当然, I’m paraphrasing. He probably asked it better.)

I loved the intelligent response that Mr. El-Erian gave. 你看, you don’t get to the top of a corporate empire with sub-par intelligence, much as we techies would like to believe otherwise. 他说, (paraphrasing again), “You asked me about what should happen, the system as it should be. We work with what is likely to happen. In an ideal world, the two should converge. Our job is to make use of what is likely to happen and make profit for our clients. It is the job of policy makers to ensure that what is likely to happen is close to what should happen.” This line of thought was the straw that I was looking for, something that I felt would assuage my troubled conscience.

现在, there is a large gulf between what should happen and what is likely to happen. What should happen is prosperity for all and peace and happiness on earth. What is likely to happen is obscene prosperity for a select few and misery for the rest. 然而,, by our skewed economic indicators (like stock indices and GDPs), we are still doing well. The party is still on, they seem to indicate. Now is not the time to worry about the mess we are creating, and about the underpaid migrant workers who will have to clean it up. Now is the time to eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow is not ours. It’s theirs, 希望.

What is interesting and really smart about Mr. El-Erian’s observation is how neatly he cleaved the responsibility into two parts — his job which is to make use of the status quo, and somebody else’s job, which is to improve it. Thinking a bit more about it, and recalling the opening scene of every one of those Mahabharata episodes where Krishna says, “In a battle between the good and the evil, those who stand on the side lines are just as guilty as the evil,” I wonder whether this observation on the ‘way things are,’ for which I shouldn’t count myself responsible, is good enough a cure for my troubled conscience. 顺便说说, President Bush totally and permanently ruined this Krishna statement for me, when he said, “You are either with us or against us.” On the plus side, thinking about Bush does soothe this guilt-laden conscience of mine to some degree. 毕竟, I could have been worse. A lot worse…

Ethics In Business and Leadership

[这篇文章是给教授演讲. 苏里亚塞西在世界论坛伦理经营 – 国际领袖周一研讨会, 四月 2, 2012 新加坡. 经授权转载。]

我被要求支付的气候变化背景下的全球能源危机中恢复的可持续性的信任有关业务问题的广谱. 重要的, 我已经要求这样做的 10 反映分钟城邦我们是在效率.

首先,让我的道德和伦理价值之间的区别. 根据我今天早上听说, 似乎有道德和伦理之间的一些混乱. 前者定义了个性和基于对错或好坏的个人信仰. 后者本质上是标准和行为准则, 预期在特定的上下文, 从所述组的各所属的. 道德典型包括社会, 企业, 国民, 专业或其他类似的契约. 逐个, 我们考虑杀在道德上是错误的,但一支军队杀害了成千上万的被认为是合乎道德的,往往是装饰为勇敢的共同利益的行为.

商业企业, today, 由正直个人集体杀害我们用凶猛分享这个星球很大程度上载人, 力度和速度匹配的战争; 并获得奖励创造了前所未有的估值和竞争力至上. 消费消费的缘故, 增长增长的缘故, 利润的盈利和政策决策者的支持是为了维护所有上述的指导都是这些企业的伦理价值.

对地球生态环境的破坏人为过去 60 年超过了人类在其整个历史做了的损害 1950. 身体之间的微妙平衡, 化学和生物过程是维持地球作为一个相互依存的系统已经受到干扰. 地球已经表现出了比前半自然变化的范围之外以及移动中的最起码一万年. 在地球的动态具有非线性反馈突然生态变化, 导致灾难性的后果, 今天是一个现实的可能性. 道德应该是价格确定,而不是价格由市场决定. 在定价自然资本,而忽视随之而来的风险是助长了消费热潮.

重要的, 成长, 消费和带来的好处已经集中在少数特权. 顶端 20% 全球消耗的 80% 其而底部输出的 80% 住在平衡 20%. 底端 20% 生活在极端贫困在消费不足 $1.25 PPP /天或约50美分/天的名义美分的国家,如印度这是家庭对这些全球不幸的三分之一. 由收入贫困只是去, 生活低于这个门槛可怕的人数减少了一些回落 500 亿 - 几乎全部在中国减少因. 然而, 这包括诸如卫生更广泛的多维贫困指数, education, 性别平等, 访问, 权力等. 推动这些贫困人口的比例约 25% 全球人口的. 重要的, 人的全球贫困线以下的人数 $2 每天的消费购买力平价约为固执地保持 2.5 十亿或约 36 % 人性化.

现代能源消耗是人类发展指数完全相关 (HDI) 但依然未能底部 2.5 十亿谁留的能源饥渴. 而 1.5 十亿其中, 包括超过 500 亿来自印度, 有没有用上电, 2.2 billion, 包括一些 850 亿来自印度使用某种形式的生物质作为能源烹调食物的主要或唯一来源 –人类最基本的必需品. 一个更大的数字将被拒绝访问被我们以能源价格, 地球上速度最快的消耗自然资源之一, 在它的真正价值. 造成这种情况的主要原因是经精心待办事项的持续消耗不成比例.

经合组织国家, 与总人口不到印度享受世界上最高的生活水平. 然而,, 经合组织的增量商品能源消费期间 1997-2007 (在金融危机前); 是 3.2 倍印度. 在这段时期, 印度的全球商业能源消费的份额从上升 2.9% 至 3.6% 而OECD的市场份额从下跌 58% 以刚刚超过 50%. 这种下降是单独由于中国的市场份额增长,因为它成为了世界上最大的能源消费国.

能源消耗不成比例远差于数字显示. 在一个全球化的世界, 大企业已经被移动OECD的生产基地显著部分搜索更便宜的自然资本包括环境公地, 这虽然无价, 仍然可以在中国自由和发展中世界.

如果看一下温室气体排放上的消费基础,而不是生产其境内, 然后我 15 排放量同比增 47% 而美国的排放量有所上升 43% 因为 1990. 在欧盟15国进口的嵌入式排放约 33% 其境内的排放. 这转化为大约 3 吨进口嵌入式排放量人均. 嵌入式排放进口对美国是 20% 或约 4 吨/人 - 在 2000, 嵌入式排放的进口在美国和欧盟15国均水平分别只有 3% . 在进口美国和欧盟15国单独嵌入式排放是两次, 1.6 次分别为印度的人均温室气体排放总量.

我们正在通过他们的支持大企业和政策制定者告诉最大的谎言就是资源效率的答案是可持续性. 尽管在资源利用效率的巨大收益, 在当今世界消耗更多的自然资本比以往任何时候,我们都在汽车试点到至少 3.5 摄氏度升温. 如果警监会是正确的, 这将释放灾难性事件和世界的血光之灾在可预见的未来穷.

简单地说, 消费和生产的当前模式, 女士们先生们, 是不可持续的. CSR活动,如开办学校和医院或绿色洗涤板配有高效的灯是根本不够. 也有不足的是,第一个影响再仅仅满足目前的规定,只有在基于一个简单的成本效益分析货币的形式看到价值的商业思维

我们需要一个政策框架,首先限制我们使用化石燃料和其他形式的自然资本,然后逐步减少它在一个从摇篮到摇篮范式以创新推动. 我们的增长模式必须是一个包容一个由几个不可持续的减少和过度的重新分配至底部 50% 这个世界. 别, 我不求通过使贫富使贫民富翁 - 我只是寻求底部的右侧 50% 世界上有被消耗给予生命的尊严 50% 经合组织内的贫困水平. 目前的不公平,从而成为世界第三大经济体,按购买力平价计算 (印度) 在HDI方面处于第134位,拥有世界上最大的注意力不集中, 营养不良的成人和体重不足的孩子是不可持续的.

在保证代际资源公平方面开明的企业领导者不能只定义可持续性还能看到不删除当前的代内不公平,从而提供最小的适应能力底部的不可持续性 2.5 人类同胞在即将发生的突变气候事件的脸十亿.

在闭幕, 我引用圣雄甘地说谁: “世界上有足够的满足大家的需求,但不足以满足即使一个人的贪婪!

我感谢您的时间和精力.

Human Virus

On one poignantly beautiful autumn day in Syracuse, a group of us physics graduate students were gathered around a frugal kitchen table. We had our brilliant professor, Lee Smolin, talking to us. We held our promising mentors in very high regard. And we had high hopes for Lee.

The topic of conversation on that day was a bit philosophical, and we were eagerly absorbing the words of wisdom emanating from Lee. He was describing to us how the Earth could be considered a living organism. Using insightful arguments and precisely modulated glib articulation (毫无疑问, forged by years of intellectual duels in world’s best universities), Lee made a compelling case that the Earth, 事实上, satisfied all the conditions of being an organism.

Lee Smolin, 顺便说说, lived up to our great expectations in later years, publishing highly acclaimed books and generally leaving a glorious imprint in the world of modern physics. He now talks to global audiences through prestigious programmes such as the BBC Hardtalk, much to our pride and joy.

The point in Lee’s view was not so much whether or the Earth was literally alive, but that thinking of it as an organism was a viable intellectual model to represent the Earth. Such intellectual acrobatics was not uncommon among us physics students.

In the last few years, Lee has actually taken this mode of thinking much farther in one of his books, picturing the universe in the light of evolution. 同样, the argument is not to be taken literally, imagining a bunch of parallel universes vying for survival. The idea is to let the mode of thinking carry us forward and guide our thoughts, and see what conclusions we can draw from the thought exercise.

A similar mode of thinking was introduced in the movie Matrix. 事实上, several profound models were introduced in that movie, which probably fuelled its wild box-office success. One misanthropic model that the computer agent Smith proposes is that human beings are a virus on our planet.

It is okay for the bad guy in a movie to suggest it, but an entirely different matter for newspaper columnist to do so. But bear with me as I combine Lee’s notion of the Earth being an organism and Agent Smith’s suggestion of us being a virus on it. Let’s see where it takes us.

The first thing a virus does when it invades an organism is to flourish using the genetic material of the host body. The virus does it with little regard for the well-being of the host. On our part, we humans plunder the raw material from our host planet with such abandon that the similarity is hard to miss.

But the similarity doesn’t end there. What are the typical symptoms of a viral infection on the host? One symptom is a bout of fever. 同样, due to our activities on our host planet, we are going through a bout of global warming. Eerily similar, 在我看来.

The viral symptoms could extend to sores and blisters as well. Comparing the cities and other eye sores that we proudly create to pristine forests and natural landscapes, it is not hard to imagine that we are indeed inflicting fetid atrocities to our host Earth. Can’t we see the city sewers and the polluted air as the stinking, oozing ulcers on its body?

Going one step further, could we also imagine that natural calamities such as Katrina and the Asian tsunami are the planet’s natural immune systems kicking into high gear?

I know that it is supremely cynical to push this comparison to these extreme limits. Looking at the innocent faces of your loved ones, you may feel rightfully angry at this comparison. How dare I call them an evil virus? 然后再, if a virus could think, would it think of its activities on a host body as evil?

If that doesn’t assuage your sense of indignation, 记住,这个病毒比喻思维,而不是字面起诉书模式. 这种思维模式仅有用的,如果能得到一些结论. 什么是从这个人比较病毒的结论?

病毒感染的最终结果总是阴沉. 无论是主机屈从或病毒得到由宿主的免疫系统遭到殴打. 如果是病毒, 这两个不测都难吃. 我们不想杀死地球. 我们当然不希望被地球被消灭. 但这些都是我们的病毒样活性的这里的唯一可能的结果. 这是不可能的,我们会得到剿灭; 我们对此过于复杂. 在所有的可能性, 我们将尽我们的地球无法居住. 我们可能, by then, 有我们迁移到其他行星系统的技术手段. 换句话说, 如果我们是幸运的, 我们可能会传染! 这是这种智力练习的不可避免的结论.

有一个不太可能的情况 — 在宿主体内共生病毒的存在. 这是一种良性的生活方式戈尔和其他人推荐我们. 但, 在这个星球上采取我们的活动股票, 我的世界末日的看法是,它是一个和平共生为时已晚. 你有什么感想?

人才和智力

In the last post, I argued that how hard we work has nothing much to do with how much reward we should reap. 毕竟, there are taxi drivers who work longer and harder, and even more unfortunate souls in the slums of India and other poor countries.

但, I am threading on real thin ice when I compare, however obliquely, senior executives to cabbies and slum dogs. They are (the executives, 就是说) clearly a lot more talented, which brings me to the famous talent argument for bonuses. What is this talent thing? Is it intelligence and articulation? I once met a taxi driver in Bangalore who was fluent in more than a dozen languages as disparate as English and Arabic. I discovered his hidden talent by accident when he cracked up at something my father said to me — a private joke in our vernacular, which I have seldom found a non-native speaker attempt. I couldn’t help thinking then — given another place and another time, this cabbie would have been a professor in linguistics or something. Talent may be a necessary condition for success (and bonus), but it certainly is not a sufficient one. Even among slum dogs, we might find ample talent, if the Oscar-winning movie is anything to go by. Although, the protagonist in the movie does make his million dollar bonus, but it was only fiction.

In real life, 然而,, lucky accidents of circumstances play a more critical role than talent in putting us on the right side of the income divide. 对我来说,, it seems silly to claim a right to the rewards based on any perception of talent or intelligence. Heck, intelligence itself, however we define it, is nothing but a happy genetic accident.

部分

Little Materialists

The other evening, I had a call from a headhunter. As I hung up, my six-year-old son walked in. So I asked him jokingly whether I should take another job. He asked,

Does it mean you will get to come home earlier?”

I was mighty pleased that he liked to have me around at home, but I said,

“别, little fellow, I may have to work much longer hours. I will make a lot more money though. Do you think I should take it?”

I was certain that he would say, 别, forget money, spend time at home. 毕竟, he is quite close to me, and tries to hang out with me as much as he can. 但, faced with this choice, he was quiet for a while. So I pressed him,

“好, what do you think?”

令我失望, he asked,

How late?”

I decided to play along and said,

I would probably get home only after you go to bed.

He still seemed to hesitate. I persisted,

“好, what do you think?”

My six-year-old said,

If you have more money, you can buy me more stuff!”

Crestfallen as I was at this patently materialistic line of thinking (not to say anything about the blow to my parental ego), I had to get philosophical at this point. Why would a modern child valuestuffmore than his time with his parent?

I thought back about my younger days to imagine how I would have responded. I would have probably felt the same way. 但随后, this comparison is not quite fair. We were a lot poorer then, and my dad bringing in more money (和 “stuff”) 本来不错. But lack of money has never been a reason for my not getting my kids the much sought after stuff of theirs. I could get them anything they could possibly want and then some. It is just that I have been trying to get them offstuffwith environmental arguments. You know, with the help of Wall-E, and my threats that they will end up living in a world full of garbage. 明确地, it did not work.

May be we are not doing it right. We cannot expect our kids to do as we say, and not as we do. What is the use of telling them to valuestuffless when we cannot stop dreaming of bigger houses and fancier cars? Perhaps the message of Wall-E loses a bit of its authenticity when played on the seventh DVD player and watched on the second big screen TV.

It is our materialism that is reflected in our kidspriorities.

An Economics Question

To all the MBA and Economics types out there, I have one simple question. For some of us to be wealthy, is it necessary to keep some others poor?

I asked an economists (或者更确切地说,, an economics major) this question. I don’t quite remember her answer. It was a long time ago, and it was a party. May be I was drunk. I do remember her saying something about an ice cream factory in an isolated island. I guess the answer was that all of us could get richer at the same time. But I wonder now

Inequality has become a feature of modern economy. May be it was a feature of ancient economies as well, and we probably never had it any better. But modern globalization has made each of us much more complicit in the inequality. Every dollar I put in my savings or retirement account ends up in some huge financial transaction somewhere, at times even adding to the food scarcity. Every time I pump gas or turn on a light, I add a bit to the cruel inequality we see around us.

不知何故, big corporations are emerging as the villains these days. This is strange because all little cogs in the corporate mega machine from stakeholders to customers (你和我) seem blameless decent folks. Perhaps the soulless, faceless entities that corporations are have taken a life of their own and started demanding their pound of flesh in terms of the grim inequalities that they seem to thrive on and we are forced to live with.

At least these were my thoughts when I was watching heartrending scenes of tiny emaciated Congolese children braving batons and stone walls for a paltry helping of high energy biscuits. Sitting in my air-conditioned room, voicing my righteous rage over their tragic plight, I wonder… Am I innocent of their misfortunes? Are you?

La logique

[The last of my French redactions to be blogged, this one wasn’t such a hit with the class. They expected a joke, but what they got was, 好, 此. It was written the day after I watched an air show on TV where the French were proudly showcasing their fighter technology.]

[In English first]

Science is based on logic. And logic is based on our experiences — what we learn during our life. 但, because our experiences are incomplete, our logic can be wrong. And our science can lead us to our demise. When I watched the fighter planes on TV, I started thinking about the energy and effort we spend on trying to kill ourselves. It seems to me that our logic here had to be wrong.

A few months ago, I read a short story (by O.V. Vijayan, as a matter of fact) about a chicken who found itself in a cage. Everyday, by noon, the little window of the cage would open, a man’s hand would appear and give the chicken something to eat. It went on for 99 天. And the chicken concluded:

“Noon, 手, food — 良好!”

On the hundredth day, by noon, the hand appeared again. The chicken, all happy and full of gratitude, waited for something to eat. But this time, the hand caught it by the neck and strangled it. Because of realities beyond its experience, the chicken became dinner on that day. I hope we human beings can avoid such eventualities.

Les sciences sont basées sur la logique. Et la logique se base sur les expériences – ce que nous apprenons dans notre vie. Mais, comme nos expériences ne sont pas toujours completes, notre logique peut avoir tort. Et nos sciences peuvent nous diriger vers notre destruction. Lorsque je regardais les avions de combat à la télé, ils m’ont fait penser à l’énergie et aux efforts que nous gaspillons en essayant de nous tuer. Il me paraît que la
logique ici doit avoir tort.

J’ai lu une petite histoire d’une poule il y a quelques mois. Elle s’est trouvée dans une cage, un homme l’y avait mise. Chaque jour, vers midi, la petite fenêtre de la cage s’ouvrait, une main se montrait avec de quoi manger pour la poule. Ça s’est passé comme ça pendant quatre-vingt-dix-neuf jours. Et la poule a pensé:

“Aha, midi, main, manger – bien!”

Le centième jour est arrivé. Le midi, la main s’est montrée. La poule, toute heureuse et pleine de gratitude, attendait de quoi manger. Mais, cette fois, la main l’a prise par le cou et l’a étranglée. A cause des réalités au-delà de ses expériences, la poule est devenue le diner ce jour-là. J’espère que nous pourrons éviter les éventualités de cette sorte.