Freight trains are already three times more fuel efficient than over-the-road trucks, and 400 miles or less seems to be the only place where trucks beat trains in overall efficiency. Yet the times necessitate innovation and invention from all.
Union Pacific, GE and Mother Nature teamed up in Oakland on Friday morning for an outstanding presentation of joint efforts in the Green Locomotive Technology Tour. With the cost of energy wearing our wallets ever thinner, our planet less and less sustainable and our cultures less amenable, it was heartening to see two giants in the infrastructure and transportation fields promote their recent efforts in Green Technology.
The old fashioned whistle stop tour has not lost its charm amongst the industries innovations. While attendance was spotty, those who braved the bright sunshine and crisp gentle breezes were treated to a well researched and thoughtful tour, complete with an engineer’s simulator experience.
Benjamin Friedman in The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth claims that economic growth is an imperative and morally necessary, particularly to raise the standard of living throughout the world. But is growth good?
Several readers responded to this question on the Harvard Business School publication, Working Knowledge. Apparently most of the responses indicate that the question should be re-phrased as, what constitutes good growth. Follow the link to read the responses.
Most responders, and by extension most readers who are well-educated managers, seem to hold socially responsible ideas indicating that many know the “right” thing to do (in our eyes). The question I have is, Why hasn’t there been a larger change? Why are economies still measured by gross domestic product? Why do shareholders still want corporations to raise quarterly earning? Why are managers motivated to improve productivity with the intent of reducing the workforce? Read the summary here.
– Ken Chung at InformedStrategy.com
ED NOTE – Ken’s article reminds me of one of my favorite quotes about this issue: “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell” – Edward Abbey
In NPR’s Morning Edition today (11-Oct), a reporter desribes a dilemma facing wealthy countries that provide farm subsidies. The Swiss government, for example, has long provided farm subsidies for various reasons–sustainability, tourism, national pride and cultural preservation among them. The problem is global trade talks will require the cessation of farm subsidies.
The challenge the Swiss face is that no one wants to give up farming, but they’re also not all prepared to pay the steep prices for farm products. A farmer describes the situation as a choice between paying about 65 Francs per kilogram of Swiss-raised pork and about 10 francs across the border in Germany. The question they have to resolve is, “How much is happiness worth?”
Listen to the article here. – Ken Chung at InformedStrategy.com