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March 15, 2012
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Home » Climate Science is Useless (to Business): Time to send scientists to b-school & business leaders back to science class

Kyoto. Montreal. Durban. Rio.Venerable cities all, but, with the exception of Rio (only because it hasn’t happened yet), each is also synonymous with failure. Failure to get consensus on the future of the environment and sustainable development.
But why? When I speak with individual business and government leaders a broad consensus exists on the need for action. The barrier seems to be politics. So let’s by-pass the politics. To do that, though, we need a different kind of collective-action—one based on science and grounded in data.
The problem with science is that it’s mostly aimed at scientists. The “big science” coming out of scientific academies and institutions is aimed either at other scientists or at the big multi-national conferences. Let’s flip that on its head.
A few months ago I had lunch with Patricia Mulroy, the General Manager of the Las Vegas Valley Water District, arguably one of the most powerful people in the Western United States. She oversees a critical juncture in the Colorado River Valley, stewarding the very essence of what makes life possible in the arid American Southwest. I expected to hear how automatic faucets, hanging up your towel, and other incremental programs save water. I heard none of that. Instead, I heard a lot about the science of water use and dissipation and how Pat put science to work to literally save Las Vegas from going dry.
We need more of that kind of science directed at individual government and business leaders so they can take action. As an example, Planet Under Pressure, a gathering of the global scientific community, and theCOMMIT!Forum, a gathering of concerned business leaders sponsored by the Corporate Responsibility Officers Association (CROA), have issued a joint challenge to the business and scientific communities. Planet Under Pressure has asked the CROA, to assemble a delegation of business leaders to come to its London conference on March 26– 29 to challenge the scientific community. The CROA, in turn, has asked Planet Under Pressure to assemble a delegation of scientists to come to the New York COMMIT!Forum on October 2– 3 to respond.
During a World Cafe at Planet Under Pressure, business leaders will call on the assembled scientists to re-direct their science to address the business problems their organizations face in tackling ecological degradation, human wellbeing, and food and energy security. Planet Under Pressure will then send a delegation of scientists to the COMMIT!Forum to respond with their plans for addressing the challenges laid out by the businesses.
If this “call and response” challenge succeeds, it has the potential to have a lasting impact on how we address these issues. It will create a new enlightenment, capable of directing resources to the most pressing needs and ending years of anecdote and speculation.  It will also put data in the hands of the people most inclined to, and capable of, taking action today.
If you would like to join the delegation of businesses, click here Click here to learn more about Planet Under Pressure and here to learn more aboutCOMMIT!Forum.
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