Now that Earth Day 2009 is over and we're almost finished with "Earth Month," it might be a good idea to take a breather from all the news and information that was thrown at us in the past few weeks. Beyond industry, the message is certainly saturating all aspects of our lives. From the message at the bottom of emails pleading us not to "print this out" to Oprah making sure we never use a plastic bag or bottle again to the roster of proposed bills related to the environment, there is no escaping the barrage of earth-friendly initiatives. How can we possibly digest such an overwhelming amount of information delivered in a day or even a month? Actually, it's not possible. It will take much time for all the announcements, initiatives, company formations, government programs, etc. to filter down to the field level where we all reside.
In spite of all the goodwill and good feeling that can come from all of these events, there are always detractors who, for whatever reason, simply need to gain attention. For example, former vice president Al Gore testified last week on Capitol Hill to the House Energy and Commerce subcommitee about the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, which is something we all know he is quite passionate about. During one portion of the meeting, Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) challenged Mr. Gore's integrity and ethics, noting his partnership in the private equity firm, Kleiner Perkins, which invests in many companies in the green and sustainability arena. It was obvious that her line of questioning was intended to embarrass Mr. Gore while at the same time boosting her own credentials. In substance, this was not exactly akin to one of those stunning moments from the McCarthy HUAC congressional investigations from the 1950s. Rather, it was an embarrassing moment for the grandstanding Ms. Blackburn. First, she didn't have all of the relevant facts at her disposal--for instance, that the former vice president donates all of the proceeds from his investments in Kleiner Perkins to the not for profit Alliance for Climate Protection, where he is the founder and chairman and who's mission is "is to persuade the American people--and people elsewhere in the world--of the importance and urgency of adopting and implementing effective and comprehensive solutions for the climate crisis." Secondly, she didn't seem to notice that she was voicing an anti-capitalist and anti-business point of view. It's no secret that that business has always been the fuel in America's economic engine. The idea that one can do well while doing good doesn't seem to sink in. And creating a green economy is going to be one of the biggest economic drivers in the next fifty years. Who wouldn't want to be part of that?
However, I do believe that it is a very good idea to hold our leaders and former leaders accountable when it comes to their work when leaving office. So, with a nod toward bipartisanship, I think Ms. Blackburn, who is also a member of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection, should invite former vice president Dick Cheney to talk about his investment portfolio. After all, it would only be fair.
Jonathan A. Schein is the publisher of MetroGreenBusiness.com and GreenBusinessCareers.com