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Bill WERLIN, General Manager, Japan at Burton Snowboards, on ‘preserving the environment for tomorrow’

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APPLAUSE I have long been a fan of TED I send then around by email everyday. It's an amazing thing. It's an amazing thing to talk to the people that are collected here. I'm not sure I'm one of the doom and gloom guys. I probably am not as optimistic as I could be. My background is the environment, I feel a little bit like in an addendum or perhaps that gnat on the back of the elephant. Particularly in regard to some extraordinary people that have voiced their concerns about the environment and where the world is headed today. If you haven't seen Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore or Sylvia Earle and her dissertation on the oceans, please go look at them. It was an award winning TED speech that Sylvia Earle put together. These are discourses that are critical to everyone and everyone should see them, from the youngest to the oldest. It's all facing us today. . As I watch these things, and I deal with the environment and the issues confronting business, just running an average business in Japan here, I get a little cynical, I try and stay as grounded in reality as I can, but I keep bumping into phrases, corporate phrases. CSR: Corporate Social Responsibility. And I suppose the fact that it's even there, that it's even on the airwaves is a positive. We are taking a small step, there is some sort of awareness, whether it's just lip-service or feigned interest in it. The bad news is that I think most corporate social responsibility programs emanate out of the marketing departments. They are green wrappings on the annual reports, my stock-holders were really on to this thing. Is it really in the DNA of the businesses? Are the people engaged in it, are they really getting out there and going home at night satisfied with the CSR actions of their company? I'm afraid not. What would happen, what would be the collective gain if those programs came from the CEO's office, or the C-level executives in the companies, what would be the difference? What would be the excitement? What would be the passion that would roll out on these programs? I looked at this, this may be the coolest toy I have ever seen! It's a little expensive, yeah, yeah. I'm sure my wife's not going to..."what did you buy today?" Well, look at this! LAUGHTER I unfortunately kept flashing though. I kept flashing as I looked at it and I saw a big wooden ball. A big wooden sphere. And I saw us as termites just chewing into that wooden ball. And we've all seen the results of what termites do to a foundation. There's a lot of discourse, it's showed up several times on the internet in the last few weeks, I remember Patrick saying it last night: If all the insects in the world disappeared, the world would die in a very short period of time. If all the humans died, went away, the earth would flourish. It's kind of a sad state of affairs. To that end, in both private life and professional life, this probably is my favorite saying: If we don't change our direction we are likely to end up where we're headed. And unfortunately, if we don't change our direction relative to the environment it's a pretty stark ending. A pretty stark and dismal ending. Can adults change? Sure they can. I would say the TED program, the TEDx, is a wonderful example of heading toward change, of engaging adults, but unfortunately, adults tend to continue successful behavior. Businesses, they add on, they continue what has brought them there in the past. They try to get even lower prices more, quicker, just-in-time to get where we're going. We have to change these directions. We have to do it. Adults can change, but where can the change really come from? And I believe it's the children. I believe it's the next generation. I believe that we have to change a generation to really affect this profound C-change, in the way we treat the world and the way we treat the environment. I would point as examples, the mothers of Ireland. They raised a generation without war. And it's a tenuous peace, I absolutely agree, but it's a peace. That generation grew up without fighting and bombs and war. The children of the baby boomers who grew up in the US who learned about anti-tobacco, tobacco smoking is lethal, they stopped, they changed they grew up not knowing that there was another way to do it. We need to do that with the children coming up. Staring in the ELCs, in the preschools, working through the elementary schools, working through the middle schools they have to learn that the decisions they make when they become our age when they become the captains of industry when they become the ones that make those decisions everyday to look upstream: How do these decisions that I'm making am I making them with environmental impact upstream and downstream? When I sell the product is that the end of my responsibility with that product? No, it's not. And they need to make these decisions as they move forward. The earth was not given to us by our parents, it was lent to us by our children. And right now, my grandkids are not too happy with me. We have not left it in very good shape for them. When I see the collection of people here, all of you, one Corona bottle, one Mondavi bottle, if I recycle it, does it make a difference? Yeah, it does. It's a small difference and if you look at the expanse of the world it's huge. But what we can do, is all of us can start everyday, particularly this kind of influential group of people, start making the difference, start teaching the kids, start making that C-change to change our direction. Thank you very much. APPLAUSE thank you very much

Video Details

Duration: 7 minutes and 21 seconds
Country: Japan
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Genre: None
Producer: Virgin Earth & Ansur Pictures
Director: Andrew Malana
Views: 352
Posted by: tedxtokyo on Apr 1, 2010

A talk given in Session 4 "How Does Today Decide Tomorrow, From Local And Global Perspectives?" of TEDxTokyo 2009, held on May 22 at National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.

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