Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Al Gore's Arm

Is it just me, or is the graphic that accompanies this Wall Street Journal article the creepiest thing you’ve ever seen?  

It’s a cross between the Incredible Hulk and a zombie!  One can only imagine what the entire body would look like.  Is this truly the image of environmentalists that Al Gore wishes to promote?  I suppose it is possible the authors did not give pre-approval for its use.  Maybe someone in the WSJ's graphics department is just having fun.

While the graphic caught my eye (which, I imagine was the point,) the article itself does not disappoint.  Among the treasures awaiting readers:

  • There is this classic tautology:  “Mr. Serafeim and his colleague Robert G. Eccles have shown that sustainable companies outperform their unsustainable peers in the long term.”
  • The repeated use of words such as “incentivize”, “metrics” and “short-termism” make the zombie-like arm in the graphic seem truly inspired.  The more I read, the more I felt my humanity slipping away.
  • Then there is this definition:  “sustainable capitalism: a framework that seeks to maximize long-term economic value by reforming markets to address real needs while integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics throughout the decision-making process.”  Rarely do so many words say so little.
  • Even if one is able to make grammatical sense of this sentence, one is still left wondering what it actually means: “Because ESG metrics directly affect companies' long-term value, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, foundations and the like—investors with long-term liabilities—should include these metrics as an essential aspect of valuation and investment strategy. ”

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