Tag Archives: climate change

Falling arches and other cataclysmic changes

31 Jan

change

With sweat and angst, people struggle for years to change things, then suddenly the mighty fall simply because of changing tastes.

Powerful people and institutions use their power to create systems that sustain and protect them. But these systems always contain elements of their own destruction. They do not defend against the unexpected and the unlikely. So when that unforeseen wave rises, it crashes with the force of a tsunami.

Who could have anticipated that people would turn against McDonald’s hamburgers?

mcdonaldsIn 1994, the restaurant giant had sold 99 billion burgers – an unfathomable number. Then it stopped counting. The film Fast Food Nation cites a survey showing that 88 percent of people could identify the McDonald’s arches but only 54 percent could identify the Christian cross. Financially, the company is larger than the economies of many countries.

Yet the chaos has come.

Days ago, after only two years as McDonald’s CEO, Don Thompson announced he would step down. Profits in the last quarter dropped a precarious 21 percent. Sales have pretty much fallen or remained flat at all stores for 13 consecutive months.

McDonald’s didn’t change. We did.

“I don’t know a single person of my generation that eats at McDonald’s,” a man in his early 20s said. “When the older generations pass on, they’ll have no customers.”

People haven’t necessarily forsaken burgers. They just prefer the so-called “better burgers” at places like Five Guys and the Shake Shack, which this week had a highly successful public stock offering.

McDonald’s, with its top marketing pros, is trying to reverse the trend. Ads have changed to show that its food is actually real. Other changes must be in the works. It could turn things around and reinvent itself, but so far that hasn’t happened. If McDonald’s goes under it will leave a giant hole in the global economy. In its wake will be opportunity for others.

We are used to disruptive technologies destroying things like newspapers and video stores, but the technology related to burgers has not changed. Only taste and attitudes have changed.

Can you imagine if this happens in politics?

Political parties usually are quick to adapt. They are willing to give people what they want – or at least provide the appearance of this – in order to survive. Still, quick changes can alter much about the system.

Koch Brothers

Koch Brothers

In a political overhaul, what would happen to the conservative Koch brothers, who announced recently that their political network will spend about $900 million on the 2016 elections – more than the Republican and Democratic parties will spend.

If the political climate takes a dramatic shift, what will happen to this network, its money and its associated power, influence, special interest legislations and the intricate machinery that runs everything and keeps order? What will happen to all the other power networks? What will replace them? Will it be genuine or phony? Helpful or hurtful? Open or closeminded? Peaceful or warlike?

It was reported this week in the New York Times and elsewhere that a majority of the American public, including half of the Republicans, support government action to curb global warming. That news is bound to recast agendas in the 2016 congressional and presidential elections.

What else is coming? Lots, probably.

Young people aren’t buying homes; aren’t buying cars; aren’t living in the suburbs; aren’t using traditional banks. Maybe they will decide to stop using traditional politicians.

On a dark election night, a losing politician was heard to have said, “The people have spoken – the bastards!”

We may be hearing more of this. It’s something to think about as we eat a better burger in the back of a peer-to-peer driving service on the way to a friend’s apartment in the city.

By Lanny Morgnanesi

Advertisements

How soon before McDonald’s opens in an Arctic shore town?

12 May

Ice Age

As a child I was shocked to learn there were Ice Ages. My concern was they would return.

With the globe warming up, I no longer worry.

As an adult, I’ve always been of the mind that the Earth is cataclysmic, dynamic and without care for the creatures and life forms that inhabit it. Because of this, I haven’t spent much time trying to figure out what’s going on with the current variety of climate change. I’m not even sure I could.

It is clear to me, however, that today’s Earth will not be tomorrow’s Earth. Nature has never worked that way.

There aren’t many trees on the Mid-western plains of the United States because they once were under water. Humans or pre-humans walked out of Africa and into Europe because there was no Mediterranean Sea.

So now the ice is melting and temperatures are getting warmer. Surely, the great amount of carbon gases being produced by the dominant species is a contributor. But are there stronger, natural, cyclical factors at work?

Maybe. But I wouldn’t know.

Does it matter?

Human cultures seem unable and unwilling to actively and intentionally reverse things. It is possible the market place could do the job on its own when advances make clean energy more profitable than dirty energy. Until then, we will suffer the disadvantages.

Just as past civilization have migrated due to changing climate, we will, too.  The Earth won’t even flinch.

When the shock of the coming changes wears off, we should focus on the benefits. And there are benefits.

Temperature change chartThink about it this way: If you lived in an ice world and have fully adapted and someone says they could melt it for you, you’d say no. If you lived in a world without ice and someone says they could freeze it for you, you’d say no.

No one wants change, even if their butts are as cold as mountain snow. The good in change often is obscured by the status quo and a locked-in mindset.

Since we are changing, let’s look for the good that has been ignored.

  • We can grow wheat in Canada.
  • They’re making real estate again.
  • New tourist destinations are coming.
  • There will be new access to abundant minerals and resources.
  • You can ship goods across the top of the world and save bundles of money. (The once mythical Northwest Passage is real).

Polar bearUntil recently, I hadn’t heard anyone talk about such things. It would be rather insensitive in light of the many species losing their habitats and the wealthy losing their beachfront homes.

But it is being talked about now.

The Obama Administration this week released a national strategy for the Arctic in advance of a conference of eight polar nations, where temperatures are warming twice as fast as everywhere else.

“Our pioneering spirit is naturally drawn to this region for the economic opportunities it presents and in recognition of the need to protect and conserve this unique, valuable and changing environment,” the president said.

I think the key words are “economic opportunities.”

My experience is little gets done unless there is money to be made.

While the environmentalists moan, complain and argue about climate change (not necessarily bad), visionary entrepreneurs are jumping in an investing. They see the possibilities. From a strategic and security standpoint, the U.S. cannot let other countries – Russian, for example, which has miles of Arctic coasts – get ahead or dominate in the new, warmer world.

And it won’t.

It’s just a shame the kind of mobilization and investment that is about to occur couldn’t have been used to combat the climate change in the first place.

Then again, maybe it wouldn’t have worked. Maybe nature has its own plan and our CO2 really is not a factor. I wish there was a way to know.

Either way, I’ve finally stopped worry about the coming of a new Ice Age and having to wear animal fur 24 hours a day. I guess that is some consolation.

By Lanny Morgnanesi

%d bloggers like this: