Oh No! Not Another Environmental Organization

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It seems like every time I turn around, I find another environmental organization that is on the front lines of the war against something or other.  Some are out to address water shortages, some are fighting the fossil fuels industry, and some are advocating for more clean solar energy.  They are all great causes.  I shake my head though and wonder how come I have never heard of this organization.  I am always amazed to find yet another non-profit fighting the “good” fight for climate change.  No climate deniers at these organizations.

Today, I went to a recently discovered environmental website and lo and behold, they have a staff of at least a forty people.  The staff seems to be divided between what I would call admin type people, lawyers, and some environmental scientists.  This particular site seems to be about fifty percent lawyers.  It is not unusual to find lots of lawyers on these sites.  The cynic in me wonders whether or not they could find a higher paying job in corporate America or at least on the Trump defense team.  The numbers of staff at these organizations can range from as few as two staff members to as many as fifty including interns and part-time volunteers.  Most of these environmental organizations will have a great looking website with tabs like this:

ABOUT   ACTION   PROGRAMS   NEWSROOM   PUBLICATIONS   SUPPORT

Go to the ABOUT tab and you will  probably find a drop-down menu that looks like this:

  • Mission
  • Our Story
  • Meet the Staff
  • Board of Directors
  • Publications
  • Jobs and Internships
  • Contact Us
  • Support Us

What am I griping about you may ask?  Why my obvious cynicism?  The management consultant in me is buzzing with the following questions:

  1. Why are so many organizations trying to do the same thing?
  2. Why so many lawyers on the staff at these organizations?
  3. Great publications and research but how come I never heard of this organization?
  4. With a sound mission and team and so many other organizations fighting for climate change, how come the best we can do is Biden’s latest bill to fight climate change?
  5. How come the climate keeps getting worse?

Please allow me to explain or at least defend my critique of these well-meaning groups in terms of the above questions.  If you do not agree, great.  Send me your reasons and logic and I will post them in my comments section or simply post it yourself.  Lets go through each of my questions one at a time.

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  1. Why are so many organizations trying to do the same thing?

In business and industry, we have a law of efficiency that abhors needless redundancy and duplication.  This law can lead to greater efficiency through economies of scale but can also lead to lack of innovation and inefficient monopolies.  Proponents of this law advocate for competition as a way of preventing these disadvantages.  However, when we talk about non-profits, we are dealing with the proverbial “horse of a different color.”  In this case, I can see more disadvantages than advantages from having so many organizations attempting to address the same problem.  For instance:

  • Wasted time spent on fund raising
  • Duplication of grants
  • Duplication of effort
  • Lack of leverage due to small size
  • Wasted money spent on equipment, offices, and administrative staff

It would really be interesting for these organizations to publish their financial reports and show a breakdown like many charities do.  I would like to know how much money goes directly to program goals versus support and infrastructure.

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  1. Why so many lawyers on the staff at these organizations?

I admit a bias here.  We have too many lawyers in this country.  In my work with organizations, lawyers were the most inefficient part of the companies that I worked with.  They blocked change with nitpicking details that were too often ridiculous and superfluous. They drove up costs with their legal fees and contributed not one red cent to the bottom line.  I hated to work for companies that had a large legal staff because I knew they would always try to find reasons “NOT” to do things rather than to change the existing status quo.  Lawyers seem to exist on the premise that it is safer to do nothing than to take calculated risks and do something.  Any time I see an organization with lots of lawyers, I see lots of overhead costs and a tendency to oppose change.

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  1. Great publications and research but how come I never heard of this organization?

Most of the time, I find my way to these environmental organizations via some article that one of their staff has posted.  For instance, the recent article in the Guardian (Landmark US climate bill will do more harm than good, groups say) led me to the following five environmental groups:

  • Taproot Earth Vision
  • Center for Biological Diversity
  • Environmental Justice Coalition
  • Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic
  • Climate Justice Alliance

I found the article interesting since it supported my belief that the Biden bill made to many concessions to the fossil fuel industry.  In the article, spokespersons for each of these five organizations echoed my concerns about the Biden bill.  In some respects, they are whistling in the wind as much as I am.  Many of my blogs deal with the problems of growth versus development, sustainability, climate change and water shortages.  I am a choir of one impacting maybe 100 or so readers of my blogs who are probably already believers in what I am preaching.  I too am guilty of not reaching the tornado blown, flood inundated, drought ridden, heat exhausted victims of climate change.

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  1. With a great mission and team and so many organizations fighting for climate change, how come the best we can do is Biden’s latest bill to fight climate change?

Most of these environmental organizations have some great people on their staffs.  Dedicated and wise scientists and volunteers who give their time and effort to help others.  I mentioned earlier that there are probably no climate deniers at these organizations.  What I do not see is the political clout that these organizations need to seriously impact the political process in this country.

Either there are not enough people who support climate change efforts in the world, or these organizations do not have enough political power to reach these people.  It is my opinion that fewer organizations working together would accomplish more than many disparate environmental organizations each staffed with a director, assistant director, administration people, HR people and other people not directly impacting the organization mission.  Of course, some staff people are needed.  The question is how many staff people are needed.  Too many organizations working towards the same mission and goals is inefficient.  Imagine, if Honda had a separate organization for each of its products.  The reason companies become conglomerates is because of scale efficiencies.

What Are Economies of Scale?

“Economies of scale are cost advantages reaped by companies when production becomes efficient. Companies can achieve economies of scale by increasing production and lowering costs. This happens because costs are spread over a larger number of goods. Costs can be both fixed and variable.” — Investopia

Global net anthropogenic emissions have continued to rise across all major groups of greenhouse gases.

A new flagship UN report on climate change out Monday indicating that harmful emissions from 2010-2019 were at their highest levels in human history, is proof that the world is on a “fast track” to disaster, António Guterres has warned. Reacting to the latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN Secretary-General insisted that unless governments everywhere reassess their energy policies, the world will be uninhabitable.

  1. How come the climate keeps getting worse?

Keep doing the same thing and expect different results and you are crazy.  The results on climate change are all going in the wrong direction.  Things are getting worse every day.  Many scientists say that we are already past the point of no return.  In a recent article by another environmental organization Circle of Blue, the author wrote that Arizona will probably be a wasteland with no water and deserted cities by 2060.

“The state enters an era of relentless decline. By 2060, according to several published projections, extreme heat and water scarcity could make Phoenix one of the continent’s most uninhabitable places.”  “Arizona’s Future Water Shock” by Keith Schneider, Circle of Blue – March 28, 2022

This concerns me greatly, since twelve years ago Karen and I bought a home in Arizona City.  We live half way between Tucson and Phoenix right in the middle of the Sonoran Desert.  We were assured by realtors that there was enough water for one hundred years when we bought our home.  A year later, we realized that realtors are the biggest liars in America.  This excludes politicians whom everyone knows cannot help but be liars.

Getting back on focus, if you were running an organization and everything you were doing was leading to declining sales, declining profits, declining demand for your products or declining success on your major indicators, would you still keep doing the same thing?

We have had twenty or more years of declining climate.  Isn’t it about time for these environmental organizations to change strategies?  Perhaps instead of writing articles, hiring lawyers etc., they should be hiring more marketing and PR people to reach out to the larger public.  Hubert Humphrey once said that “If you give the people the right information, they will make the right decisions.”  We have an SEC Commission which publishes stock reports on an hourly basis.  We have a Consumer Affairs Office which provides us with monthly updates on consumer spending and inflation.  We have a Commerce Department and Labor Department which issue regular updates on labor, monetary policies, gross domestic product, and many other economic indicators.  All of these reports help to insure that people have information about the economy.  But when it comes to the environment, where are the national indicators?  Where are the:

  • Weekly updates on temperature changes by state?
  • Weekly updates on water supplies by state?
  • Weekly updates on ozone levels, methane levels, carbon dioxide levels?
  • Weekly updates on aquifer levels?

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Maybe if more people had as many facts about the environment as they have about the economy, they could make better decisions.  Maybe, there would be less climate deniers and more people voting for officials willing to change how we deal with the environment.  Maybe, maybe, maybe.  But one thing is certain, if we keep doing what we are doing, we will leave a barren unsustainable world for future generations.

But can we really learn to love again?

Just Give Me A Reason”  Pink with Nate Ruess
Sad-Broken-Heart-Wallpapers-4I love the possibility that Pink raises in her song that a love which has gone cold can somehow be reignited.

But can we really learn to love again? 

How many of us have had a love affair go south.  A love that we thought was like no other.  A love that would last forever!  A love that caused all reason to go out the window and for which we would have sold our souls to the very devil himself.  A love that friends and families said was meant to be and that would still be burning bright in the firmament when all the stars in the sky had long since dimmed.  A match made in heaven itself that would never be seen again.  No reason, no logic, no facts, no data, no statistics, no arguments, no evidence could convince us that we would not be with this person until the very end of time.  But then something happened!

I’m sorry I don’t understand
Where all of this is coming from
I thought that we were fine
(Oh, we had everything)
Your head is running wild again
My dear we still have everythin’
And it’s all in your mind
(Yeah, but this is happenin’)

Suddenly, the impossible becomes possible.  The unthinkable becomes thinkable.  Your worst fears become reality.  Nightmares become day dreams.  You are cheating on the other person.  The other person is cheating on you.  You are drifting apart.  You don’t connect like you used to.  You find yourself wishing you were with someone else. You are hurt.  You are lonely.  You feel abused. You feel neglected.  They don’t care about you anymore.  Things are different but you don’t know why.

You used to lie so close to me, oh, oh
There’s nothing more than empty sheets
Between our love, our love
Oh, our love, our love

But can we really learn to love again? 

You don’t know.  They don’t know.  The impossible is now probable.  You have lost faith in the dream.  “Grow old along with me” has changed to “I can’t go on any longer like this.”  Caring has changed to neglect. Closeness has been replaced with distance.  Love has been replaced with apathy. Everything seems hopeless.  What could have happened to us?

Just give me a reason
Just a little bit’s enough
Just a second we’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again
I never stopped
You’re still written in the scars on my heart
You’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again

But can we really learn to love again? 

Where do we start?  We forgot what we meant to each other.  We forgot how to care for each other.  We forgot how much we once loved each other.  How do we remember?  Where do we find what we once knew?  broken-heart-pictures-quotes

Life conspires to help us forget.  I told you that I loved you a million times.  Each time I meant it more than the countless times before.  But one day, I stopped saying it.  Something was happening but I did not know what.  Nothing had prepared me for the day that I forgot that I once loved you.  Now, my once and forever love is not even a distant memory.  Where do I find the love that I lost?  Can I find it in your arms or in the arms of someone new?

Somehow it seems easier to look elsewhere for our lost and forgotten love.  Divorce is fast and easy.  I lost something that now I cannot find.  Easier to move on and start over again.  Legions of counselors, psychologists, therapists and ministers could not put our love back together again.  I simply want to escape the pain and the loneliness.  I did not mean for this to happen.  We seemed to be so happy together yesterday and then today, it was all over.  Dreams shattered like a boat in a storm on a rocky shoal.  It all happened so fast, I was overwhelmed.  I am devastated.

Oh, tear ducts and rust
I’ll fix it for us
We’re collecting dust
But our love’s enough
You’re holding it in
You’re pouring a drink
No nothing is as bad as it seems
We’ll come clean

broken-heart-love-quotes-text-1719275-1280x800But can we really learn to love again? 

I wish that it were really possible but I don’t know where to start.  How can we go back when I don’t remember what to go back to?  What is the cause?  How do I solve a problem when I don’t know what the problem is?  Like the boat on the shoals, I feel like I am being battered on all sides.  I can’t go back and I can’t go forward.  I want to escape and I don’t know where or who to escape to.  Somewhere there must be a happy ending.

Oh, we can learn to love again
Oh, we can learn to love again
Oh, oh, that we’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again

But can we really learn to love again?

Maybe we can learn to love again but often I think it takes work and more work.  Too many love affairs, marriages, romances etc. are based on a sort of nostalgic love.  We hear of many people who have gone back to high school reunions and married a high school sweetheart.  I think romance might be the start of love but it is only getting out of the gate.  The real work comes, and it is work to keep a relationship together, after the fantasy of love forever starts to fade.  No amount of dreaming, hoping or wishing can replace the effort that a good relationship takes to maintain.  The Law of Entropy says that unless you put energy into something, it will devolve into chaos and randomness.  Too many love affairs have gone this way.  There is something sad about watching this happen, whether to a friend or to ourselves.

Time for Questions:

Why do we fall out of love?  Was it really love in the first place?  Can we bring back the feelings we once had for someone?  Why or why not?  Are you willing to do the work it takes to rekindle an old flame or to keep a flame burning?  Can it really be rekindled?  Is it all about wanting to or is it all about desire?  Do you know anyone who has “learned to love again?”  What did they do?  Could you do this?  Why not?

  

Stages of Aging

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For many years now, I have wondered about the way we live life as we get older.  Psychologists and scientists have studied the “growing” process for children and young adults but little or nothing has been done to look at the aging process for older adults.  You can look at developmental stages for infants, children, young adults and to some extent adults through middle age.  These stages describe changes in motor skills, social skills, cognitive skills, and language skills.  The changes in skills are described chronologically.  As one goes from infant to adult our skills in these areas undergo profound changes.  People like Haim Ginott, Jean Piaget, Arnold Gesell, Eric Erikson, Lawrence Kohlberg and many others have all contributed to our understanding of how we develop from infants to adults.

Unfortunately, there are few if any studies that show how people age after they become adults.  It is assumed that adults simply grow old and die.  My wife who worked in home care for many years described three stages that were used by home care people to relate to the aging population.  They were active elderly, pre-frail elderly and frail elderly.  These stages describe differences in physical capacity, cognition, and quality of life.  The problem with these stages is that they are too broad and do little to describe the developmental pattern of many aging adults.

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Over the years, I have thought about a way to describe the changes that I see many of my aging friends going through.  I can see why it is difficult to find any uniform stages because illness and other problems of the aged impact any linear timelines that can be uniformly ascribed to getting older.  We see people who are still active when they are in their nineties and people who are sick and bedridden in their sixties.  Differences in lifestyle have a major impact on how people age.

However, I have recently thought of one series of changes that I see many aging people going through.  These changes do not center or focus on physical change although they parallel to some extent the changes that are taking place both physically and cognitively.  The changes I refer to are based on domicile.  As we age, we change our living arrangements in terms of scope and scale.  We change the size of the place where we live and we change the amenities that are offered in our living places.

I want to describe one pattern of changes that I have seen happen many times now with friends and relatives and neighbors.  My caution to you is that not all aging people will go through these domicile changes.  For reasons dealing with incomes, social arrangements, ethnicity, culture and health, many aging people may remain in one place for all of their lives.  The ideal way to die is often described as to be in bed with no pain and surrounded by your loved ones in your own home.  I have seen this happen but perhaps not as often as we would hope for.  Thus, the following sequence of “stages” in aging that I describe are centered on changes in residency and are by no means immutable or universal.

Dates are approximate for each of my stages.

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Empty Nest:  44-60

Your children are off to college or jobs, and you are still working.  You have this entire house to yourself except for when your kids stop by to drop their laundry off or for a free meal.

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Downsizing Home and Snow Birding:  60-70

You have either retiring or are getting ready to retire.  The house that you have lived in for many years now seems much too big.  Your children have moved away to follow their jobs and you hardly see them anymore.  You decide to purchase a new home or condo and simplify your life.  You get rid of much clutter, move to a less crowded location.  You now spend winters going down to Arizona, Florida, Texas, or California.  The old bones do not seem to like the cold weather and the tropical breezes feel great on your arthritis.

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No More Snow Birding:  70-75

Going back and forth has gotten to be too much.  You had to make a choice and your chose the tropical weather over the snow and cold of your old home.  You moved down south permanently, and you decide to stick it out through the really hot weather.  You crank the air-conditioning up when needed and stay inside.  It is still easier with no snow or ice to deal with, and the humidity is low and that feels good.  Your new home is small, but it is comfortable and easier to maintain.  Taxes are lower and upkeep is lower as well.

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Aches and Pains and Missing the Kids:  75-80

Even a smaller home is hard to manage on your own.  You decide to move back to your roots.  Most of your children also seem to be there now.  You sell your tropical paradise, and you find an apartment or small home close to your kids.  You are back in the cold and blustery winter weather, but you really do not get out much.  You get to see your children more and they are there to help you when you need it.  Much of your time is spent in doctors’ appointments.

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Assisted Living Home:  80-85

You just can’t do the things that you used to do.  Even a small apartment is too much to manage on your own.  The kids do not feel that you are safe by yourself.  They convince you to move into an assisted living center.  It is a beautiful place with birds and fish tanks and many activities for seniors.  You really did not want to go but you had no choice.

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Nursing Home:  85-90

You can’t get around on your own.  You can no longer prepare your own meals.  You have a hard time even getting dressed.  Your kids felt it was for the best.  Everyone seems sleepy and somnolent.  You don’t like the ambiance at all.  They bring in entertainment once a week and when you are able you participate.  Your children stop by every so often.

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Hospice Care:  Near the End of Life

It just seems like yesterday that you were a little kid.  Your mom and dad would take you to the beach in the summer and you would build castles in the sand.  Your grandmother would take care of you sometimes and tell you stories about life when she was growing up.  You were always getting into a fight with your older brother.  Where are they now you wonder?  It has been so long since you have seen them.

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Cemetery:  The End

I never thought it would be like this when I died.  I understand why no one ever came back to tell me.  All my old friends are here along with my mom, dad, brother, and grandparents.  It is like a great big reunion.  I don’t feel old anymore and all my arthritis is gone.  I don’t know why I was so hesitant to come here.  It is a beautiful happy peaceful place.  It is my favorite place of all.

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PS: 

I realize that the scenarios I am sketching are highly restrictive and do not apply to a large majority of the human race.  I am describing my experiences to date as a middle class, white somewhat educated male with a wife and several children.  The above stages are related to my experiences and while I believe that many people will identify with them, they are far from being a definitive description of the stages that all humans on this planet will experience.

Ingratitude:  How it destroys our minds and hearts and souls. 

I wrote this about 8 years ago. I thought I would reblog it this week. It still seems worth saying and hopefully worth reading.

Aging Capriciously

One of the things that I think most of us try to do is make sense out of the senseless. To do this, we apply various types of reasoning. From economic to political to psychological explanations, we attempt to fashion a purpose or logic for the senseless that helps us to see some logic to seemingly random and violent actions. Religious people use the term sin to cover many such acts. Some say it is the work of the devil. Psychologists use terms like paranoid schizophrenic or sociopath to convey some idea as to motive and underlying rationale. More practical minded people look to motives like revenge, money, jealousy etc.

I have heard that Bertrand Russell said that fear was the main motive for all evil that is done. This has a great deal of merit to it as an rally5underlying or foundation problem to explain many senseless acts of…

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