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President of the United States Theodore Roosev...

President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front. Deutsch: Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), Präsident der Vereinigten Staaten von 1901 bis 1909, Friedensnobelpreisträger des Jahres 1906. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over one hundred years ago, our then president, Theodore Roosevelt, was particular interested in our natural resources, the people and cultures of our country and the need to remind everyone that we should improve those resources for future generations. Please keep in mind that the term Sustainability had not been coined, but the desire to to the “right thing” was so clearly embedded in Roosevelt’s thoughts and deeds.

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
~ Theodore Roosevelt

“To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.”
~ Theodore Roosevelt

“We should not forget that it will be just as important to our descendants to be prosperous in their time as it is to us to be prosperous in our time.”
~ Theodore Roosevelt

I wonder what Roosevelt would have said in today’s context. Would he have been an environmental activist, a commander of industrial leaders, a rebel who would have had indigestion with international organizations and NGOs? We shall never know, but one thing we do know now is his love for this country, its people and the resources that stretch from one ocean to the next.

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US government reporting of Sustainability efforts:

In 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13423 that set Sustainability goals for Federal agencies and focused on making improvements in their environmental, energy and economic performance. The Executive Order outlined the following objectives for the United States:
•    30% reduction in vehicle fleet petroleum use by 2020;
•    26% improvement in water efficiency by 2020;
•    50% recycling and waste diversion by 2015;
•    95% of all applicable contracts will meet Sustainability requirements;
•    Implementation of the 2030 net-zero-energy building requirement;
•    Implementation of the storm water provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, section 438; and
•    Development of guidance for sustainable Federal building locations in alignment with the Livability Principles put forward by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Is the US government truly Transparent in reporting Sustainability?
Two of the most important tenants in Sustainability reporting are based on integrity and transparency. In 2010, Sustainability reporting was established by the US federal government that outlined the objectives of the status of each objective within each federal agency.  Reporting was completed in January 2011. Within the guidelines, objectives are supposed to be set up for each agency; however, there are number of agencies that did not report objectives for 2010. Those agencies were:
•    Department of Education
•    Department of Housing and Urban Development
•    National Archives and Records Administration
•    Office of Personnel Management
•    Social Security Administration
•    Tennessee Valley Authority
•    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Additionally, three  federal agencies either had broken links or did not provide reporting for their respective areas on the front page of their site. As a citizen, this is an obvious indication that those agencies do not take Sustainability seriously. Those agencies include:
•    Department of Agriculture
•    US Army Corps of Engineers
•    Department of Veterans Affairs

Reporting content, from a business professional viewpoint who has developed, promoted, analyzed, and taken actions based on scorecards and other business dashboards, I find that this format, although simplified, does not provide information about results, issues, or action items to make those objectives satisfactory or “green”. In the business sector, executives and all levels of management, are usually rewarded on the basis of results. It is apparent that the government standards are not set as high. Most managers and executives I know would have communicated clearly that their organization’s need for participation, involvement and ownership of objectives in their respective organizations. There seems to a number of disconnects:
•    A quick review of the consolidated dashboard, indicates that only three federal agencies do not have the yellow or red status on their objectives (which in my experience would make each one of these agencies suspect). My professional experience would indicate that a mix of performance results in each agency would be the norm, rather than the exception.  It is very important to be able to verify and validate the results of any agency.
•    Additionally, it is unbelievable that the Department of Education has no strategy to reduce energy, promote renewable energy, reduce portable water, or have any strategy to reduce petroleum use in their vehicles. This lack information would imply that their executive team is not in control of their agency, nor has a sense of urgency.
•    Also, it is unbelievable the Office of Personnel Management was void of three strategies for reduction of energy reduction, in usage of potable water, and the reduction of  fleet petroleum usage. Again, this lack information would imply that their executive team is not in control of their agency, again, does not appear to have a sense of urgency.

When in today’s world, from many federal positions are paid in excess to comparable business positions, it is incumbent on the federal government to do their job properly, accurately, with transparency, and be able to inform citizens of this country. At this point, Sustainability reporting and transparency is only a beginning. However, the implementation of this dashboard tool does not provide the clear answers that everyone needs to address.

Those answers should be able to give all citizens a sense of urgency and action by its government to ensure that today’s practices will not endanger future generations.  This dashboard does not provide a sense of urgency since all the reports are linked to 2010 time frame that was reported in January 2011. In line with that expectation of producing an annual report, I would have expected to see the results of 2011 since we are now in March. The dashboard, published by http://sustainability.performance.gov/, does not provide that consolidation in transparency.

Mr. Obama,  as an American citizen I ask you two basic questions:  Transparency is a key principle in Sustainability reporting. How can you possibly tell the American citizens how well your administration actually performed compared to your seven Sustainability objectives, that were outlined in Executive Order 13423, when you’re reporting mechanism doesn’t provide a consolidation or summary of previous years?  Some agencies are reporting perfect scores. How can any information be utilized when results have not been verified by an outside source such as the General Accounting Office? If not, how can this reporting system declare to have a sense of integrity or transparency? Dr. W. Edwards Deming said; “You can expect what you inspect.”

Next: From the GOP Sustainability: Where’s the beef?

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English: Smokestacks from a wartime production...

Dear Journal, March 3, 2052: It continues to be overcast, dark, and hazy again. The weatherman announced that today is a “red” day and particulates are forecasted to be worse for the next eight days. I cough and think; “Why did it have to happen?” We made pollution a common daily event. It is now mid-21st century and where are we going to end up in the next ten years, the next twenty?  George Will once said; “The future has a way of arriving unannounced.”

How does that impact us, now, today? Today, only interior design brings color to our lives by bringing color inside homes, while outside with the smog, we see only shades of gray. It is neither comfortable nor pleasant to open windows in the midst of summer. What the heat scorches, the pollution only amplifies. That layer of dust on the furniture also covers your body. Yes, air pollution has been linked to memory loss, respiratory ailments and heart failure. Remember “Mickie the Miner” said in an interview? He who was so annoyed of hearing people complain about city pollution? He said; “Nobody matters any more!” – is this what our urban culture has come to?

Environmental costs are affecting everyone’s discretionary spending. How many Americans can now afford to use their air conditioning and heating any more? More and more people are going to the “embrace nature” energy campaign where we open our windows and live more like our families did in the 19th century.

Today, we now have over 11 billion people on this planet. Forty years ago they used to say that the planet was not changing, not warming. All megacities continue to work with huge population problems, as well as, pollution that is so dense trees are gray with carbon particulates., Now, add to that megacities that are established on the coastlines around the world. Do you remember the flooding of major cities around the world like Hong Kong, London and New York City? Cities like New Orleans and Venice are either submerged or behind very expensive dikes.

Flooding in this sense is not a one time event. It is the consequence of rising coastlines. There is an estimated 100 million refugees forced out of their cities due to rising coastal waters. They had no potable water, food, electricity, and all fire, police, healthcare, telecommunication and transportation systems were overwhelmed by flooding. Australia and New Zealand have had to commit more defense forces to protect their borders from refugees fleeing from South East Asia. And still, not one country has a policy that addresses coastal flooding.

Transportation has changed, too. Look at the corner service station sign showing $25.00 a gallon for unleaded gasoline. We now have electric cars, fuel-cell powered vehicles, natural gas powered eighteen wheelers, bi-level articulated buses are now standard and mass transit programs have dramatically expanded. Ethanol has not made the impact once thought it could, it only increased food costs. What happened to alternative energy? I can remember when we could take vacations out of state, even out of the country. Those were great experiences. What happened to energy affordability and availability?

It is unimaginable, to see the excessive number of people who have starved in this century. A recent estimate is that the total number of people who starved the 21st century has surpassed the total number of people in the last 300 years. Africa alone has lost more than 90 million people due to lack of food and water. Weather changes in China, Pakistan, Brazil and Australia have created exaggerated cycles from drought to floods. The dwindling flow of water from K2 and Everest areas of Himalayas alone has impacted over a billion people. Those unprecedented cycles have caused extreme crop failures and restricted exports of various grains. Natural disasters that continue to hit US crops as well. I guess there is wisdom in the saying; ““Man has only a thin layer of soil between himself and starvation”.

Do you remember where you were October 13, 2036, when we had our first space crisis? Most people remember not knowing when or where the errant rocket would land. It was to be the first Asian space craft to set up mining operations on the moon. The rocket’s uncontrolled trajectory caused it to burn up in low orbit. The most serious problem was the on-board mining equipment. A nuclear reactor, that powered the extractor, ruptured over an area from Cairo to Tel Aviv. It was estimated that 1.2 million people were exposed to high levels of radiation. How many will die of cancer or radiation exposure?

In the early 2030s, we read and heard about cities on water rations, and various suburban and rural areas that no longer had access to potable water. Yet, industries are continuing to fight against communities over what? Water. One would think that government or industrial leaders could try to solve flooding and drinkable water problems. Communities around the world and industries alike are still dumping their waste, untreated, into lakes, rivers and oceans. Where are the results?

Recall the trade wars from 2021 to 2025? What unfolded when China reinstated their “Accession Protocol”? Their actions in 2021 caused a major trade war between East and West. China lost their economic policy, which many perceived as a loss of face (even with political support from India and Russia). The WTO decision and UN sanctions backed the European Union, Canadian, and US positions. The policy severely impacted trade balance among many countries and the ban on germanium, specifically, halted critical supplies of strategic material for energy and communication products. Fiber optics and photovoltaic solar panel prices increased three-fold in only two years.

In 2023, another strategic event escalated due to Lithium producers export restrictions. The “Lithium Wars”, led by Bolivia, Brazil and Chile, drastically limited electric battery production and eventually caused a global work stoppage for over two years. Only through the successful use of oilfield brine did the battery industry fend off economic collapse in the US.

A recent National Geographic article was about deforestation and its impact on our planet. I had no idea that the rain forests around the world had decreased by 30 percent in just two years . The article documented how laws in various countries were not enforced and farmers continue to eliminate the rain forests to produce crops for only 3 to 4 years. Clearing of forests, produce wood for lumber, but at the same time destroying ecosystems and varieties of plants that have been on this planet since the Jurassic Period. Just the value of knowledge about those rare specimens are unfathomable and forever lost. In 5 years, what remains of the land is often depleted of nutrients and left to erode.

Dear Journal, think about what is happening. Each problem is a global issue by itself. Each of these tribulations, alone, could impact the survival of humanity. But now, we are faced with a convergence of these ten major issues and realize the tremendous impact and severity each bring to our world.  Because of their interconnectedness, each of these issues, could be major problems that might escalate into an epic tragedy. Gandhi said in the 20th century; “Live as if your were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

We should have started fifty years ago. Sad, after 50 years we still do not have anyone accountable. Looking back, one has to sit down and ask; “What have we done?” Then we must respond by saying: “This is not how the story is going to end. We must have the will to Lead Smart, with a vision, and create endless opportunities through Sustainability. It’s not too late! We can have a future and turn our needs into reality.”

 

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