Saturday, December 8, 2007

It’s the same all over

I arrived in Beijing on Sunday night the 2nd of December for a conference discussing CSR and the cultural imperatives of Chinese companies.

This morning in the paper were two front page stories that caught my attention.

One was about the sentencing to 16 years in prison of a Shanghai “tycoon” for abusive “brute” capitalist behavior. He had embezzled money, forged tax receipts, defrauded investors in the stock market, among other criminal acts carried out through the means of business enterprise.

This story put to me once again the role of character in free markets: cheating is everywhere; laws alone don’t stop it; free markets can clear it out only after the truth comes to light.

There would thus seem to be a constant, universal need to focus on ethics, character, personal goals and integrity as a third counter-weight to the human tendency to abuse power in private hands.

The second story was the report of a Chinese government agency that the average temperature in China so far during 2007 was at the highest level since 1951. This marks the 11th year in a row of higher average temperatures than in previous periods.

Systemic temperature rise is prima facia evidence of global warming. It does not provide evidence of the cause or causes of the trend, but does leave us with the fact of a change in our environment.

And, to me, if we don’t like the implications of the trend, regardless of its causes, we should be taking steps to moderate the rise in global temperatures.

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