In the famous Apple commercial directed by the renowned Ridley Scott, an omnipotent dictator pontificates to the masses that, “Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology—where each worker may bloom, secure from the pests purveying contradictory truths. Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death, and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!” In 1984 when Apple was about to release the MacIntosh, it used this scorching, Orwellian vision of the future to assert that the Mac would prevent the existence of such an oppressive and malevolent regime because it facilitates the free-flow of information. The commercial can be viewed by Googling “Apple 1984 Super Bowl ad”.
We are all hopeful that Apple is right that the MacIntosh and/or its technological descendants will assure the unhindered proliferation of information and ideas. However, it is prudent to take pause and consider an axiom that was espoused in George Orwell’s iconic novel, “Nineteen Eighty Four”: “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” How does one really control the present? For example, can military superiority alone always ensure control? In Other Inconvenient Truths Beyond Global Warming (Rozich, 2015), there is much discussion on the impending resource crisis noted by the McKinsey Group (2011) and how renewables will likely be necessary for the maintenance of economic stability as well as for stemming global warming. In a resource-challenged scenario, basic resources for energy, water, etc. can arguably present the ultimate leverage that controls the flow of information. Consider that the one who controls the resources could not only potentially control what information gets distributed, but also who has the ability to control a computer and use the internet. After all, the information age has made us even more dependent on energy and power than ever before. Renewables are not only essential to manage the environment, but are also pivotal for providing resource security. If one is not dependent on Big Brother for resources, then one enjoys a higher level of independence and arguably a greater surety in having the ability to participate in the free flow of information.
The history of Apple’s corporate strategy genuinely shows migration towards a renewables-based functionality. In an article in Forbes (Denning, 2014), it was reported that Mr. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, was being asked by a finance group to divulge the costs of the company’s programs for energy sustainability programs. This group further insisted that Apple make a commitment to “doing only those things that were profitable”. Mr. Cook smartly responded to the financiers by noting that “return on investment (ROI ) was not the primary consideration for these issues.” This exchange was subtle, yet very illuminating on a number of levels. It is prudent to recognize that the calculation of ROI is subject to a number of input variables. It is also impacted by variables that are difficult to quantify for inclusion in a conventional economic analysis. For example, what if the intrepid financiers asked Mr. Cook if Apple was sure that it had resource security and could guarantee that the company’s fiscal performance would not be impacted by an inability to have access to key resources? It is extremely difficult to quantify in detail the value of resource security and its impact on ROI. One can be assured, however, that if you do not have adequate access to resources, your ROIs will be less than optimal and potentially negative. Guaranteed. In this economy and with the myriad of resource interlinkages that exist, it is essential to have renewables as a significant piece of your resource portfolio. It’s not just good for the environment, it’s good business. As Marcus Aurelius once said, “The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”
1) Rozich, A. F., Other Inconvenient Truths Beyond Global Warming, Super Nexus Press, West Chester, PA, 2015.
2) Orwell, G., Nineteen Eighty-Four, Martin, Secker, and Warburg, Ltd., London, 1949.
3) McKinsey Global Institute, Resource Revolution: Meeting the World’s Energy, Food, and Water Needs, McKinsey and Company, San Francisco, November, 2011.
4) Denning, S., “Why Tim Cook Doesn’t Care About ‘The Bloody ROI’”, Forbes, March 7, 2014.
Aurelius, Marcus, Meditations, Penguin Books, Ltd., London, 2004.