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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Why The Chinese Are Winning

We Americans have sustainability directors.

It's that simple.

You may have seen the story on the CBS Evening News website that foretold of calamity befalling the world's coffee bean crop when global warming heats up.

If not, turn to "Climate change pushing coffee to extinction?".

The shocking news is delivered by "the director of sustainability for Starbucks, Jim Hanna."

Now I've been in the corporate world for more than a few years. (Although I've been out of graduate school, where such bullshit is given birth and thrives, for eleven.) And I've never heard the term "sustainability director."

So I looked it up.

Kevin Doyle, with something called "Experience Green," (one's first clue ...) gives it definition in "Job Market Sees Growing Demand For Sustainability Managers":
Here's a fairly typical example from a currently posted job description at a major university.

...[T]he coordinated institutional sustainability effort [is]...focused on greenhouse-gas emissions reduction, transportation planning, green building, procurement, waste management, energy and water conservation, and other cross-disciplinary initiatives. The Director of Sustainability will provide leadership and coordination...and develop a consistent plan to reach...goals. The Director also coordinates with the...community to integrate sustainability into the curriculum.
Here you thought Starbucks would be focused on freaking coffee.

Not even.

I think executives there realize that anyone willing to pay four bucks for six ounces of flavored water isn't really interested in the product.  It's the thrill, the experience, the adventure, the sustenance of our way of life.

How comforting it is knowing that the outfit that puts ground-up beans in a pot, nukes 'em, and sends the end-product your way in an environmentally friendly paper cup is shepherding the planet at the same time.

My heroes.

Meanwhile, at the same time that Americans are feeling good about themselves and the environment they're helping to ... sustain ... one frappuccino elcamino pathetico latte - with a twist of fair trade caramel - at a time, Chinese workers drink water, work their asses off each day, and will soon own our environmentally pure world.

The final rapier thrust through the heart?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average "Sustainability Manager" makes $161,000 a year.

For the love of God.  Can it get any more crazy?