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.

This excerpt is from an article that is worth reading if you are concerned about the environment.  I will put the url after the excerpt:

“There are so many crises occurring simultaneously that we cannot be misled when it comes to the solution. We must not return to ‘normal’ as advocated by governments and corporations: ‘normal’ is part of the problem. It is time to demand strategic changes that represent more radical responses and create conditions for other changes in the future. Major decarbonisation can help us today. However, it will not be easy to demand structural reforms without working-class mobilisation. Here, we see the important role of social movements in Latin America in demanding the impossible, especially when any other perspective could push us even further into the abyss.”

This excerpt if from:  https://thetricontinental.org/notebook-3-green-new-deal

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. barryh
    Aug 10, 2022 @ 10:48:38

    Very good point, John. But people get very attached to their perceived little bit of the problem and want to put their money there, rather than to some humungous environment organisation?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Aug 10, 2022 @ 18:30:23

      Hi Barry, you make a very good point. It just seems so many people getting less leverage on the issues that are critical to our survival. I would bet any amount of money, if I had any, that the oil companies are in constant collaboration on their efforts. John

      Like

      Reply

      • barryh
        Aug 11, 2022 @ 08:50:07

        Indeed. It seems that things have to get even worse before change is forced, too late to keep climate anything like it has been for our lifetimes.

        Like

        Reply

        • Dr. John Persico Jr.
          Aug 11, 2022 @ 13:28:18

          I wonder if we will even have a livable for humans planet in fifty years. It does not look good. John

          Like

          Reply

  2. Jane Fritz
    Aug 11, 2022 @ 11:49:26

    You were assured by your realtor??!! 😂😥

    Like

    Reply

    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Aug 11, 2022 @ 13:34:11

      Yes, they still tell would be buyers that there is 100 year supply of water. I frequent Pinal County Economic Development meetings and I have been told and heard this many times. Not to mention being told repeatedly that “you have nothing to worry about.” Even some of the state water management and water resource groups in AZ have bought into this myth or at least do not openly challenge it. I have heard many of the environmentalists from various State and University organizations support the Republican mantra that “you have nothing to worry about.” I would call them sycophants but that is perhaps too strong. Maybe they are just worried about their jobs and pensions in a state that is heavily Republican and controlled by real estate developers. In any case, the developers develop, the legislators lower taxes and the water supply keeps dwindling. John

      Like

      Reply

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