Gem of the day

As one of the major service providers to BP's Deepwater Horizon rig, Halliburton has had a lot of big questions to answer to over the past few years.

That must be why in the Q&A on its website Halliburton is so open and honest about its role in the spill - provided you can find the information yourself:

"Halliburton’s contract with BP Exploration relating to the Macondo well is available on its website at www.halliburton.com. Halliburton’s responses to the various commissions and agencies investigating the incident are available in the form of press releases on Halliburton.com."

How useful.


Gem of the day

The concept of an 'Access to Medicine Index', comparing how well the world's big pharmaceutical companies are doing at providing people in developing countries with affordable drugs, could be just the shake-up this industry needs. Novartis continues its 6-year battle with the Indian government over pricing and patents, and GSK is still reeling from its record $3 billion settlement with the US government for fraud and civil liabilities (read: mislabeling drugs and covering up evidence in medical journals).

Instead, here's the quote the founder of the index chose to provide to sum up the challenge at hand (via The Guardian):

"Access to medicine is a multi-faceted challenge and therefore responsibility for improving it lies with a number of different actors, but the pharmaceutical industry has a critical role to play."


Gem of the day

Here's a gem that has to count in the top 5 worst forms of praise you can get in the business world (of Rich Kinder, CEO of American energy giant Kinder Morgan and former executive of massive, corrupt failure Enron):

“If Kinder had stayed on as president, Enron would still be here,” says Richard Smead, a veteran industry executive.

That seems just about right for a guy willing to say this about our global energy future:

Kinder says: "I’m not naive...I’m a huge believer in the genius of mankind, and I think we’ll continue to find new ways to utilize, explore for and produce more and more fossil fuels."


Another non-environmental wonder

London Mayor Boris Johnson has a solution to the UK's stagnant economy: sell cars to India (via The Telegraph):

"It is the economic partnerships that offer the most extraordinary prospects. Imagine selling a Jag to one in every 100,000 Indians. That’s a lot of Jags, and a lot of jobs."

Truly ingenious.


Another non-environmental wonder

News that Hostess, the infamous American manufacturer of sickeningly sweet snacks, has filed for bankruptcy, is attracting weirdly misguided analysis. Here's one gem (via Forbes):

"The company’s assets can become valuable properties of several of its rivals...I would imagine that its production machinery as well as several proprietary items such as recipes might make great additions to Kellogg’s, Kraft and even beverage giants CoCa-Cola and Pepsi. 'Have a Coke and a Twinkie' has a nice ring to it...Hopefully the brand can re-emerge as part of a company such as Keebler or Mondelez with proven track records that is able to make Twinkies the non-perishable item for which it is known."

Memo to Forbes: Twinkies are so artificial they can last up to 25 years without going bad. That's only one reason a nation facing 44% obesity rates by 2030 should never, ever eat them.


Gem of the day

The UK CFO of McDonald's on ethical sourcing (via FT):

“The health of farmers is important to us,” says Brian Mullens.

For a business that spends over £320m every year on produce from 17,500 British and Irish farmers, that statement could mean a lot.

In that case, given their record on health and their business strategy, which underscores "value will continue to be a key growth driver as we reinforce the affordability of our menu", they'd better not invest in feeding farmers McDonald's.


Gem of the day

There's been plenty of excitement about the Pentagon's growing interest in renewable energy. BP's astonishing return to "business as usual" in 2011 is case in point for why this shift could have a huge impact and change the game - because it really is a ridiculous game - for our global energy mix (via Businessweek):

"Since BP has admitted it violated criminal law, will the U.S. government stop doing business with the company? Not necessarily. BP is a big supplier to the federal government. It sold more fuel to the Pentagon in 2011 than any other company—contracts worth $1.35 billion...The military needs fuel for its tanks and trucks and planes."


Gem of the day

For the world's big food companies, there's an awkward cognitive dissonance at the heart of the sustainability agenda (via GSB).

It's the consumer's choice:

"Most large food makers have resisted government regulation, instead favouring self-regulation and emphasising the personal responsibility of consumers to make their own choices about diet."

But business markets to influence those choices:

"Marketing messages seen in food advertising strongly influence behaviour, especially among children who are forming eating habits that will last a lifetime."

Another non-environmental wonder

Just one potential reason why Microsoft lacks innovation (via Businessweek):

"The environment in Microsoft’s executive suite resembled something out of Game of Thrones, with division heads poaching talent from one another and thwarting attempts from other groups to collaborate on products."



Something that's actually good

Daniel Birnbaum, CEO of make-your-own-soda firm SodaStream, explains why the business models of Coke and Pepsi are out of date (via WSJ):

"If the beverage industry had to create itself now from scratch, it wouldn't do it the way it is. You don't need factories, trucks, bottles and cans. Transportation for carbonated drinks in the world utilizes 100 million barrels of oil every year. That is 20 times the BP disaster that hit the Gulf of Mexico. Every single day...[beverage companies generate] one billion bottles and cans, most of which just go to trash, landfill, the oceans or parks."


Gem of the day

Jeremy Leggett, CEO of renewables firm Solarcentury, reacts to today's report from the IEA predicting that oil will make the US the world's largest energy producer by 2020 (via Businessweek):

“It’s a comfortable narrative, and people are desperate to believe comfortable narratives."

And now for the uncomfortable narrative: as part of the report's launch, IEA head Fatih Birol called energy efficiency policy to date an "epic failure".

If Paul Ryan did the math, this scenario would probably add up.


Something that's actually good

Fantastic new report from nef makes the link between the economy's dependence on oil today and the banking industry in 2006, proving energy is our biggest barrier to prosperity:

"Unless nations prepare to break the relationship between fossil fuels and their economy, this will prolong or prevent recovery from the current economic crisis, in effect, placing a glass ceiling on recovery."

nef translates into clear policy terms what Kurt Cobb has described as "a financial system and physical infrastructure premised on continuous and rising levels of oil consumption."

In other words, it's the oil, stupid.

Gem of the day

Conservative MP Richard Bacon on HMRC's convenient tax relationship with Starbucks (via Guardian):

 "It smells – and it doesn't smell of coffee. It smells bad."


Another non-environmental wonder

An analysis of what it takes to win a campaign from one of Romney's advisors, almost as deep and meaningful as most of his "policy recommendations" (via NY Times):

“It’s one thing to say you are going to do it; it’s another thing to actually get out there and do it,” said Brian Jones, a senior adviser.


Another non-environmental wonder

Case in point for why our system for measuring prosperity is completely broken (via the FT):

"The storm that ravaged the north-east coast of the US last week will hit economic growth in the final quarter of 2012...However, economists are already looking forward to the likely boost to GDP next year from spending on reconstruction."

Another non-environmental wonder

McKinsey casts a dreamy look at the future for the world's emerging economies: replica USAs all around, with enough impersonal shopping experiences for everyone:

"Eventually, mom-and-pop stores may go the way of buggy whips, and the descendants of today’s village children in countries such as China and India may scoff at the idea of buying products and services anywhere but in climate-controlled malls or online sites. For now, though, manufacturers staking their futures on these booming economies must forge lasting relationships with a diverse set of retailers—before competitors do."


Gem of the day

Jack P. Williams, President of XTO Energy, shares some words of wisdom:

"Why am I so optimistic? Because I live in Fort Worth, which happens to sit on top of the most actively drilled shale play in the United States – the Barnett Shale. Where I live, shale gas activity is a familiar part of everyday life. You know that old saying, 'not in my backyard'? I don't have a shale well in my backyard ... but I can see one from my front yard."