Dear Ethix – Issue 63

General Peter Pace

I read your comments on page 2 with both amazement and great trepidation. Were you really thinking that Gen. Peter Pace would NOT be an appropriate interview for Ethix because of your own views on the war, or because you weren’t sure such a conversation would fit with the discussion of ethical leadership in global business? I am very thankful you acquiesced on your initial fears.

I found your Conversation with Gen. Peter Pace to be the most inspiring, candid, and astute Conversation I have read in Ethix in the last 10 years. I wish more people in America could understand the depth of intelligence and moral character that Gen. Pace and many of our military leaders possess. Well done. This was excellent!

Bud Boughton
Greenwood, Ind.

Gen. Pace’s assertion that he’d still do what we did in Iraq, with the same intelligence is disturbing. Later he states that though we should tell the truth as we know it, there’s much we do not know.

What we should do in such cases is make sure we know, and the only way to do THAT is to make sure we hear dissenting viewpoints, something the Bush Administration (and a lot of business leaders) still don’t want to do. Acting preemptively on presumption is unnecessarily destructive.

Email response

We both truly enjoyed the Gen. Pace article. Your questions were thoughtful, honoring, courteous, respectful, and thought provoking. His answers were the same. Thanks.

Jerry and Lori Molitor
Shaw Island, Wash.

Clive Mather and Oil

The oil empire was built on the idea that it will never end. Millions in investment were spent to create this industry which “controls” many. The beneficiaries of the oil industry want to prolong the dependency of their product while the group being controlled wants to foster new ways of getting energy. History has this pattern of repeating itself. How many “rushes” are documented in our history books? Today we are living at the end of the rush for oil and the beginning of the rush for bio energy. My hope is that the new “rush” will follow a more conscious path, sharing the power and distributing the outcomes of the new technology.

Breno Marquart
São Paulo, Brazil

I believe that our ever-increasing energy use has pushed us to short-term thinking, much like the CEOs who try at all costs to please their shareholders. Our dependence on hydrocarbons such as oil has made us oblivious to the fact that it is one of many possible sources of energy. Since we are in a sense “stuck” with hydrocarbons such as oil we must face the consequences, namely high levels of CO2 emissions that are slowly destroying our planet.

I applaud Mr. Mather for taking it upon himself to tax the carbon emissions created by Shell, as this was done without the legal need to. Through doing this one has the incentive to be more responsible when drilling for and refining crude oil. Mr. Mather states that the current direction we are headed in is going to make the world very inhospitable, especially for the poor. I also like that he mentions using corn straw to make biofuels, since this is waste and so exploitation is not taking place. I wish he had said more about solar energy, which is brilliant because no one can take ownership of the sun. This results in a collective source of energy for everyone.

Sultan Abdulha

Mather can be mentioned as an environmentally sensitive person who cares about coming generations in benefiting from the natural resources. Voluntarily considering a tax for using such resources shows him a responsible person with respect for mankind.

The approach to solar energy is another important point of the discussion. In this case natural capital is not abused and the rights of the others are considered. This may also help the countries in need of energy who don’t have enough financial resources to develop their industry.

Alimansour Saghafi
Tehran, Iran

Environmental issues are a great concern for people of my generation. Even though many of these issues have been foreseen many years ago, we are only starting now to care about it and we are slightly panicking at the idea that we are only starting to pay for our mistakes. Short-term thinking, as well as a self-centered conception of how to allocate resources, have been the main causes of environmental concerns, in my opinion. In other words, most businesses have succumbed to the pressure of maximizing shareholder value at all cost in the shortest term possible, and we have strongly overlooked the long-term consequences of our decisions and lifestyle, in particular in parts of the world that we don’t feel connected to (i.e., Africa). It is now our duty to look at the issues we are facing today from a global perspective and to work closely together in order to develop new technologies, to efficiently relocate existing technology, as well as to work on new laws related to environmental issues, that will offer viable paths for worldwide sustainable development.

Sandrine Picot
Paris, France

Editor’s Note: The letters commenting on the Clive Mather (Shell Canada) Conversation came from graduate business students at the International University, Vienna, Austria.