Tag Archives: Sustainability

Crisis Counseling: Is Climate Change the New Y2K?

Credit: Konjin in Pantervel Its a funny old world. 

Vinnie Mirchandani thinks the IT industry is hyping up climate change.  He thinks they stampede their customers into panic buying of strategic IT solutions for what might not be a problem at all. All the while, the industry coaxes hapless regulators into passing laws on climate change that require IT investment. He compares this to the Y2K response:

Unfortunately, I see the same hysteria building around sustainability and green stuff. Doomsday scenarios. Vendor selling toolboxes when a hammer may suffice. Vendors with hammers that would break no matter how small the nail. Vendors lobbying regulators to require investments. Guilt based value propositions.

Nice gig eh?

Except, contrast that with what Greenpeace said this week:

The first results of the Greenpeace Cool IT Challenge expose the IT industry’s inadequate leadership in tackling climate change despite its claim to have the immense potential to enable 15 percent cuts or more in all global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.  …… To really deliver on this potential the IT industry needs to look beyond just cutting its own emissions and deliver climate solutions for the rest of the economy.

During the Y2K era Vinnie was at Gartner providing advice to clients on how to deal with the threat. His concsience bothers him still:

I have been asked a few times since 1999 – did Gartner hype up the Y2k problem for its own benefit? And my response is – well, it did shake and wake people up and eventually make Y2K a relative non-event. But, in retrospect, I do wish we had helped clients protect more against the “greenwashing” that went on back then.

It strikes me as a rather odd way to view a successful response. Dare to imagine we might successfully do the same to arrest climate change?

There is an obvious cynicism trap we need to avoid here. 

Fortunately, Vinnie has the right instincts for the transparency needed to protect the integrity of the public & private sector climate change response:

This time the stakes are even higher. But we have a bigger set of watchdogs now. Us bloggers. I hope we don’t just report the problem. Or worse, just  hype it.

Hopefully we can learn from the Y2K experience without deriving cynicism from the virtues of preparedness & mitigation. Glad you’re part of the conversation Vinnie.

PS    Do please stop by my ZDNet stand: this week I blogged on Greenpeace Cool IT, Sun & Symantec as an example of a new breed of corporate  sustainability leadership.


Does Suicide Sell?

Hot on the heels of the Motrin Mommy fiasco, a new row has broken out on Twitter over a series of advertising visuals developed by BBDO for Pepsi. You can read all about it at my blog on ZDNET.

In the end the conundrum is this –  should commercial speech be allowed free speech protection and artistic sanctity? My view is that free speech ought to be protected fully but when the chips are down a commercial enterprise and their PR mavens are going to find it nigh on impossible to defend. There have been exceptions, Benetton comes to mind but is that what a Benetton is for?

In the Pepsi case – we have a company that is committed to sustainability & transparency. They publish their standards and performance and they admit a mistake and say sorry.  The alternative could be to stick by their guns and defend it. I would respect that too and I would enjoy seeing that play out. BBDO, sadly has done neither — they appear willing neither to say sorry  and recant or stand behind the work and their client.

There will be many more moments like this in the future. It won’t be viable in future to always either roll over or hide.