Global Warming Business Ethics


Global warming is a topic that has been in the news, classroom, and discussed in many media outlets. This controversial topic has many wondering if global warming is fact or if it is hype in order to create demands in certain markets for product marketing and profits. Even the science community cannot come to an agreement on the reality nor severity of global warming. I happen to believe that the truth lies somewhere between fact and hype but my opinion leans more towards hype.

I believe that people across all continents of the world regardless of their stance on global warming should agree that we all have a moral responsibility for our actions and to ensure that we are causing no harm for that which the planet cannot bear. Certainly, we as people understand that there are consequences, or rather re-actions, to our every action. Sir Isaac Newton proclaimed that for every action that there is an equal and opposite reaction.

While his hypothesis was related to his first laws of motion it carries similar meaning in other respects as well. The Minnesota Department of Health published an article providing ample studies from the science community that shows certain chemicals and manufacturing processes are bad for the environment (MDH, 2004). Where we can improve our manufacturing process or there exist more safe alternative means to production and use of products that have less impact on the environment then both business and consumers should choose the product with less impact.

In this case we are discussing what would have the least ‘possible’ impact on perpetuation global warming. The reason that I personally believe there is more hype than fact to global warming is that for all the improvements we have made in reducing our impact to the environment over the last 40 years of my life, I have seen neither increase nor reduction in the warming effects across North America where I travel extensively for business. I realize that this is just one small part of the planet but I read of others similar observations as well.

One comment that is substantiated by many prominent scientist that I rationalize with is “The lack of warming for more than a decade—indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the U. N. ‘s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began issuing projections—suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause” (WSJ, 2/21/2012). The earth has been evolving for millions of years. It has at least once before come out of an ce-age through a ‘global-warming’ transformation of that time without man-made CO2 emissions. Regardless of where their intentions were, I believe there have been many businesses that have capitalized and fed on the fear of the public related to global warming to promote their products. This is not to say that their products have not all been worthy to some degree but I have to ask myself, what are the equal and opposite reaction to their actions.

While some may believe that their only interest are in humans we are not the only living creatures impacted by production and use of products therefor businesses should have ethical duties to all living beings and not just humans. Part of a business Corporate Social Responsibility is to “take in to account its responsibilities to society in coming to its decisions, but society also has to accept its responsibilities for setting the standards against which those decisions are made” (Hartman/DesJardins, 2008, P147).

Society is made of individuals, business, and within society there also exist other living beings such as pets, farm animals, and other creatures of nature. All that exist are in some ways impacted by the ethical decisions made of business. If a business operates in an unethical manner by disposing of manufacturing by-products by pouring the chemicals in to rivers or dumping it on the ground where it can be absorbed through the soil and in to the aquifer, then all living creatures feel the ill effects to some degree of that unethical business practice.