Friday, August 21, 2009

Fighting Our Fear of Standards Standards Standard

In 2005, I attended a conference on the possibility of utilizing Fossil Fuels as a "Clean" energy source organized by the Asia Pacific Economic Conference. The conference was an irony but I won't be talking about the conference topics which talked about the geological sequestration of carbon dioxide and coal liquefaction but the time when I personally met a former Energy Minister while lining up at the Buffet Table and chatted him up on the energy prospects of the South East Asian Region. When he moved on to the Halal table, I realized that no matter how complex the environmental laws of the Philippines are, we as a people generally have very low standards about how we utilize our resources and protect the environment. We are more focused on the external and superficial rather than the root cause of the problem especially the leaders.

I was impressed by the simplicity of other environmental laws within the region and the humility of the energy minister that they still do not fully understand the magnitude of the environmental impacts of further fossil fuel exploration in their countries and here we are bragging about our energy exploits which only looked good in the power point presentation but too politicized to be implemented.

While working, my boss insists that the root cause of the non-compliance of fast food firms to the effluent standard is the "incompetence"of those working in the end of pipe but the truth is the root cause of the problem is the lack of commitment of the people on top because they are too comfortable with their positions and the real focus on environmental management is quite misaligned.

Some companies even go to the effort of defining their own standards without general consideration to its impact on the environment. A change on how things are done usually threatens us and we fear it, we generally fear standards because we are too comfortable with the status quo.