Just a Cup of Coffee

[IMPORTANT: My point in this essay is narrow: that most of the world has moved past outright denial of human-caused climate change. This does not mean the companies I highlight are actually implementing effective solutions. In some cases they engage in outright “greenwashing.”]   

So, I woke up this morning and made a cup of coffee. Well, actually I didn’t, because coffee bothers my stomach, so instead I opened a can of Diet Mountain Dew to feed my caffeine habit. 

As I sat down at the kitchen table, swilled my Dew and opened up my laptop, the Climate Emergency was front of mind (as always). I have realized lately that the world has moved a long way from climate change denial. The perception of climate change as a “liberal conspiracy” or a “hoax” has diminished. It remains strong only among mercenary think tanks and politicians (well-funded by the fossil fuel industry), certain media outlets, and the megaphone of social media.  

How do I know this? I don’t need to look far past my nose this morning. The soft drink in my hand is a product of Pepsico, Inc. Here’s what they think about climate change:

“Implementing solutions to address climate change is important to the future of our company, customers, consumers and our shared world. We have a strong interest in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions given the risks we believe climate change presents to our business and the communities where we operate. Climate change could have an impact on the quantity and quality of agricultural raw materials available for our products; create weather patterns that affect the operation of our facilities and supply chain; and affect the availability and quality of water.” https://www.pepsico.com/sustainability/climate-change

How about Alcoa and the aluminum can holding my drink?

“To that end, Alcoa Foundation primarily focuses our funding in two key areas: 1) promoting the prevention of, and resilience to, climate change from human activity and 2) the restoration and preservation of biodiversity.” https://www.alcoa.com/foundation/en/default.asp

How about the cotton shirt I am wearing? 

“Cotton Incorporated, on behalf of the global cotton industry, appreciates the gravity of the challenges posed by population growth and climate change, and the responsibilities these challenges entail.” https://cottontoday.cottoninc.com/about/

What about the Sony TV I just turned off (which my son wasn’t supposed to be watching before school?) 

“As a member of the global community, Sony embraces its responsibility to help in the fight against climate change.” https://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/csr_report/environment/management/tcfd.html#block01

What about the energy powering my devices?

“MidAmerican Energy is proud to be part of a company that is committed to environmental responsibility and willing to play a leading role in developing sustainable, climate-friendly solutions to meet customers’ energy needs while keeping costs reasonable and affordable.” https://www.midamericanenergy.com/environmental-responsibility

What about the paper used to create the unopened mail on the table next to me? 

“Increasing our energy efficiency and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are
among our most important goals to improve our planet. Our Vision 2020 Goals include a commitment to reducing absolute GHG emissions by 20 percent and increasing purchased energy efficiency by 15 percent. (Reducing the use of purchased energy decreases GHG and other air emissions.) Furthermore, we use carbon-neutral biomass and manufacturing residuals (rather than fossil fuels) to generate nearly 75 percent of the manufacturing energy at our mills.” http://www.internationalpaper.com/planet/policies-certifications/climate-change-statement

What about the LED light bulbs directly over my head?

“We believe that GE is uniquely positioned to contribute to efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions.” Climate Change Statement

What about the iPhone on the table next to me?

“To take on climate change, Apple has reduced its comprehensive carbon footprint by 35% since 2015. That takes into account hundreds of suppliers and millions of our customers’ devices. All our facilities worldwide now run on 100% renewable energy. And we’re helping others do the same, by finding ways to bring renewable energy to emerging markets and working with local utilities to make renewable energy available to all.” https://www.apple.com/environment/our-approach/

What about the Chromebook I am typing on?

“We’ve made it a top priority not only to become more energy efficient, but also to ensure that the energy we purchase comes from clean sources such as renewables. In 2018, we matched 100% of the electricity consumption of our global operations with renewable energy for the second year in a row. Our support for clean energy goes hand in hand with reducing our carbon footprint. By improving the efficiency of our operations and buying both renewable power and high-quality carbon offsets, we’ve been carbon neutral since 2007. We’ve set a long-term goal to power our operations with carbon-free energy, 24×7, 365 days a year.” https://sustainability.google/

What about the chipset in my Chromebook?

“Intel Corporation believes that global climate change is a serious environmental, economic and social challenge that warrants an equally serious response by governments and the private sector. By its nature, climate change is a global problem that defies simple “silver bullet” solutions or contributions by a narrow group of countries or a few industry sectors. Addressing climate change requires broad leadership by both the public and private sectors.” https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/corporate-responsibility/environment-climate-change-policy.html 

What about the Subaru Outback in my garage?

“Characterized by increasingly frequent and devastating abnormal weather events, climate change is a threat to all of humanity. Reducing anthropogenic greenhouse gases (referred to below as “CO2” fo the sake of convenience), which have been pinpointed as the cause of climate change, is a crucial task that will ensure the sustainable growth of both Subaru and society as a whole.” https://www.subaru.co.jp/en/csr/continuous/environment/050_climaticvariation.html

I could go on . . . and on. . .  and on. The world has moved on. If only the remnants of climate change denial were not so loud and powerful, we could act more quickly to address the climate emergency.