Thursday, April 17, 2008

Media: Global Warming’s Rainmakers

From the Columbia Journalism Review:

News outlets large and small, in the U.S. and overseas have, for years now, talked about a coming energy “revolution” akin to the Industrial Revolution of the late eighteenth century. The belief that wind, wave, solar, geothermal, bio-power, and the like will incite such a profound transformation in our world order explains, in part, why one recent study found that green business stories have “mushroomed” in 2007. It also explains why some news organizations’ interest in the subject has migrated beyond the page.

This year, at least four major publications-The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, The Economist, and Scientific American-have launched what they expect will become annual conferences about green business and corporate sustainability practices. As it is with carbon dioxide and global mean temperature, there has been a bit of a lag time between cause and effect here-many of the CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, VCs, investors, and policy wonks that the conferences aim to attract started burnishing green credentials years ago (General Electric, for example, launched its popular “Ecomagination” campaign in 2005). According to Bruce Brandfon, Scientific American’s publisher for the last seven years, the advent of the media-sponsored green business conferences is the result of a “perfect storm,” pairing the urgency global sustainability with the financial willingness to achieve it.

“Why is it happening now? The simple answer is: the money is going there,” Brandfon told me. “The subject of energy sustainability and green technologies is a very interesting and important subject for our readers. But the reason people are doing these conferences is the following: it’s clear that the line has been crossed where the cost of non-compliance is greater than the cost of compliance. So, unless you are building a sustainable business model, your competition will eat you alive....MORE