Global Warming: Does It Matter?

Jeff_Pinyot

If you want good dinner conversation, place at least one liberal and one conservative together at a dinner table and insert a bottle of Pinot Grigio, a nice appetizer, and perhaps the suggestion of global warming for conversation.

The parking industry is often referred to in discussions of the effects of environmental change, so it seems that we have the right to have an opinion on the subject.  When our company is asked what environmental effect our lights have on carbon emissions, we often equate it to X numbers of cars being taken off the road. It actually seems a little stupid to tell Parking Company A that if they use our lights, it will be like taking 50 cars (paying customers) off the road.  I know it really doesn’t effect the number of cars in actuality, but it does seem like a silly analysis given the facts.  Perhaps we should talk about the effect as X number of new trees planted.

We’re not the only ones to have opinions on the environment, of course. Why is it that every celebrity believes himself to be an authority? Could you imagine George Clooney saying, “In ‘Gravity,’ I played an astronaut, which means that I would have probably gone to Purdue University, which means that I should probably be pretty smart, so I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that global warming is for real…I think.”

Silly, right? Here’s what he really said: “If you have 99 percent of doctors who tell you ‘you are sick’ and 1 percent that says ‘you’re fine,’ you probably want to hang out with, check it up, with the 99. You know what I mean? The idea that we ignore that we are in some way involved in climate change is ridiculous. What’s the worst thing that happens? We clean up the earth a little bit? What’s the worst thing that happens? We clean up the earth a little bit?”

I agree with him: cleaning up the earth is a good thing no matter what you believe about climate change. The bottom line is, we should leave the world in at least the same shape as we got it, no worse, and preferably better.

The Growing Green Movement

I just returned from a week-long cruise with my wife and four children. A cruise is not really classified as a green activity. The immense consumption that takes place on board as compared with the desperate poverty that can be witnessed in virtually every port is a cataclysmic reality-check of the wide crevasse between the haves and the have-nots of this unequal world.

One could overthink this cultural divide, or one could look to learn lessons from the people and societies of the various ports of call. I chose the latter.

It has been said over and again that out of poverty comes ingenuity. That was seen in spades along the way in beautiful artwork made from scrap metals to beautiful papers made from recycled fabric. What really showed in the ports of call was the pride of the artisans.

What we call the green movement in the U.S. came out of our consciousness (because of our plenty), but in these developing areas, it comes from necessity. Could we do better? Absolutely! What new renewables can we embrace moving forward? Three that caught my eye on the trip were cork, bamboo, and hemp.

Cork: Cork farmers harvest the outer layers of a cork tree every nine to 12 years. The bark grows back and can be re-harvested up to 12 times from a single tree. A cork tree is not killed in the action of harvesting the product, which is completely renewable. It is as durable and long-lasting as leather and has a very promising future.

Bamboo: The bamboo tree can grow up to four feet in a single day. Bamboo is a great product for flooring and other building products and some of the softest clothing you can buy. This product, raised properly, will play a vital role in the future economy.

Hemp: Hemp’s rapid growth cycle and strong characteristics make it a wonderful product for making textiles and building materials. Look to see hemp take a strong role in the future. Check out the age of this comment from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture:

“Hemp is the miracle plant of our time, breathing in four times the carbon dioxide (CO2) of trees during its quick 12-14 week growing cycle. Trees take 20 years to mature vs 4 months for Industrial hemp! Our forests are being cut down 3 times faster than they can grow! One acre of hemp produces as much cellulose fiber pulp as 4.1 acres of trees!” (Dewey & Merrill. Bulletin #404. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. 1916)

What does all this mean for parking? That remains to be seen–greening has a big future ahead, and it’s going to be a great ride.

Talk is Cheap

Jeff_Pinyot

I know many parents who shelter their kids from real conversation, but they’re a great way for children to learn about life. My son Jonathan (JP) loves to learn about my business.

“Do you have investors? Do you have debt? Are we rich? Why are you always so grumpy?” Answers: Yes, yes, no, and because the answer to the third question is no.

Real life is the very best teacher. No college economics class can replace Life 101. My kids are used to every opportunity being a business opportunity. Driving through Birmingham, Ala., on spring break one year, my daughter said, “Dad, look at the awful yellow lights on that parking garage over there. You should meet with that owner and let him know that you could save him some money.” I met with the owner the next morning.

Will our family ever get rich from dad’s decision to quit a solid job of 24 years to start a lighting business? While our investors, my partners, and I believe the risk and investment will pay off, “rich” has a far deeper meaning. I am already rich in the support of my loving family and the sacrifices that they have made so I could reinvest my life into this business. We are rich in experiences.

I’ve always said, when the time is right, there will be a book. The book will be a “How To”, or a “How Not To” book. I am working on the chapters right now.

Be green, but don’t just hug a tree. Climb it!