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Yesterday I finally met a remarkable man who talked about system change and the importance of looking at a company’s ability to generate value and be productive 3 to 10 years from now, not just in the next 11 months. The auditorium was packed, students seemed moved and were frantically taking notes. Yet today, during the business and environment class I am taking at the Harvard business school, many students commented that what Gore says is not practical and we should not even bother to live a carbon neutral life because individual actions cannot make a difference.
I asked those students what would they do if they were in a leadership position, heading a fortune 500 company, and then they said that maybe they would reconsider their position. A few others though quietly followed me at the end of the class to thank me for having taken Gore’s side and articulated that macrocosmos are made up by microcosmos. They even asked me they could use the argument again. There is hope.
As I walked back across the river, I was puzzled by the skepticism and diversity in values that still permeates within the next generation of business leaders, even in light of all the latest scientific evidence, economic reports and financial performances of businesses that have chosen to become eco-responsible, and I got a breath of fresh air as I read the “thank you” emails from many Kennedy School students who have offset their X-mas travels emissions following up on an email I sent last night with a link to a carbon offset site. Thankfully other upcoming leaders out there believe their actions matter. Hopefully, as an American businessman wrote, After the last no, a yes will come, and on that yes the future of humanity depends. (Wallace Stevens, quoted by Gore yesterday.)
May you always have the courage to believe that you can make a difference and stick out for the good cause that is dear to your heart.