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Pick-and-mix dogma is unethical and intellectually dishonest

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Dogmatic people are never much fun at dinner parties, whether economic, political or religious. Often they lack curiosity or empathy for alternative points of view, any self-awareness or even a basic grasp of the actual doctrines that underpin their worldview.

We’ve seen this most recently during the Commons vote over equal marriage, where divorced and subsequently remarried MPs have spoken of the sanctity of marriage and how it is between one man and one woman. We presume they mean consecutively.

If the Bible is to be taken literally and same sex marriage is wrong on theological grounds, then there is a smorgasbord of unpleasantness to hit society with from the Old Testament. Especially women and children. Unless, of course, your reading is highly selective and recognises that different times had different ethical frameworks, in which case everything is open to modern day interpretation, within the context of modern values. Only accepting the bits you agree with, is not being religious.

As Barack Obama said, “Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith?

“Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own defence department would survive its application (ideals that focus on love and humility rather than force and exaction)? So before we get carried away, let’s read our Bibles. Folks haven’t been reading their Bibles.”

People from liberal, authoritarian, left, and right wings of politics often hold contradictory positions on economic and cultural liberalism or social conservatism. Often they favour the economics that benefits their social status or wealth and the cultural lifestyle that most closely resembles their own.

A non-domicile father of an illegitimate child owns the guardian of British morality, The Daily Mail. Not that there is anything wrong with illegitimacy; relationships fail and children are born outside wedlock. Viscount Rothermere behaved honourably when the relationship with the boy’s mother broke down setting up a trust fund for his care – but The Daily Mail does rather stigmatise single mothers, when its proprietor created one.

The online version of the newspaper is littered with barely legal, scantily clad, girls and women. A previous proprietor had a soft spot for Hitler, which is not necessarily the most ethical foundation to preach to the rest of us.

Economically speaking, both Friedrich Hayek and Adam Smith wrote about environmental protection (the need to consider negative externalities) and moral sentiments (such as the limiting the selfish impulse of entrepreneurs) respectively, where unfettered profit maximisation at any cost, environmental or social, was seen as unacceptable.

For example, in the Road to Serfdom, Hayek noted that there are certain areas, such as the environment, where activities, which cause damage to third parties, cannot effectively be regulated solely by the marketplace. He wrote, “Nor can certain harmful effects of deforestation, of some methods of farming, or of the smoke and noise of factories, be confined to the owner of the property in question, or to those who are willing to submit to the damage for an agreed compensation.” Moreover, this was 1944.

Meanwhile, Smith said, “To feel much for others and little for ourselves; to restrain our selfishness and exercise our benevolent affections, constitute the perfection of human nature.”

Karl Marx argued a communist revolution would take place in industrialised societies, but this is always forgotten in discussions of the failure of soviet communism – a mainly agrarian economy at the time of the revolution. In many ways, Marx’s analysis of capitalism’s systemic weakness has proven to be correct. He did not really offer any solutions however, and we know too well the many evils of those who carried forward his ideas.

You would struggle to find any trace of this nuanced and highly developed thinking in the swivel-eyed utterings and reports of modern-day intellectuals who take these great philosophers’ names in vain.

Let’s read our economic textbooks. Folks haven’t been reading their economic textbooks

Just to be clear, this is not remotely suggesting a wholly secular, morality free, communist society or the opposite (a theocratic, socially conservative, free market) is a desirable goal. Nor are those triplets causally linked. Our view is that sustainable and proportionally regulated free markets in liberal democracies with equal rights and effective rule of law should be the goal. Your personal life, short of protecting the vulnerable, is entirely your own business.

However, to reject wholesale, the intellectual rigour behind some of this thinking, or to use selectively dogma that supports your own prejudice, is both unethical and intellectually dishonest.

Further reading:

Witnessing financial capitalism’s failure

Capitalism’s woes will not be solved by 16th or 19th century economic theories

Enslaved by free markets

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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