An Open Letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Senators Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz About the Importance of Sustainability and ESG Reporting.
“There are not infinite resources in a finite world.” These are words spoken to me by a Weber State University professor in a class that I took about the environment and environmental appreciation. These no truer spoken words have lived with me ever since.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Steven Pearce and I am from Redding, California. I graduated from Weber State University with a Bachelors of Integrated Studies in Sociology/Anthropology/Political Science that I earned with General, Departmental, and University Honors. I have an MBA with an emphasis in Sustainability Management, a Master of Project Management, and am currently working towards getting an ALM in Global Development Practice Graduate at Harvard University Extension School. I state my academic prowess as someone not to brag, but to show my expertise in this area. I am Muslim, and when someone speaks about a subject, they should have the credentials to speak on that subject, or not speak about it.
I grew up near Lake Shasta which is the second largest water reservoir in California. This year, it began the season at less than 40% capacity, the lowest that it has ever been. It is normal for Redding residents to speak about Lake Shasta’s current water lever.
Also, as you should be well aware, California has dealt with droughts and fires for years now. Every year during fire season, the fire damage is worse than the prior year. Entire communities have been wiped out. A very large portion of Redding was also wiped out by a fire in 2018. The droughts caused the trees to be drier internally, so it allowed for easier combustion, and faster spread of the fires. I am not a scientist, so I do not know the technical specification of this, but you catch my drift.
I would like to begin by saying that I am disheartened that issues of Sustainability and ESG Reporting have become so politicized. I have seen the anti-ESG remarks from all three of you, and I wish this was not a politicized issue. It is not part of some woke agenda, climate change is real. If it was not, then please tell me why the DOD has climate change listed as the number one threat to the United States? This is a threat that puts all life on Earth at risk, this is no joke, this is something to not be politicized, yet the GOP is the only major political party on Earth that has politicized this issue.
I really do not want to make this a political issue, because both my father and stepmother were staunch Republicans and Conservatives, yet they cared about the environment. I do think that they were against the Spotted Owl issue, but I am too young to remember, and my father passed away, so I am unable to ask him. They did care deeply about Lake Shasta, and the snowpack level at Mt. Shasta. So they were conservationists, they believed in preserving the environment, whether they realized it or not. I believe that this is an inherent quality in all humans. Again, I reiterate, that this is not a political issue, but a humanity issue.
It seems that originally, the biggest obstacle towards a company starting a Sustainability Plan, was a fear of the cost. However, companies have found that by becoming Sustainable, they eliminated waste, which in turn saves money making a company more profitable. This is a great, thing. So, if this is still your biggest concern, just let it be known that it will add value to your company. This is a topic that I plan to write about soon.
The next big obstacle I believe is that people really do not know what Sustainability really is or means. I give a detailed description of this topic on my website. However, I will explain to you in a way that I explain to people in day-to-day conversations. Once they understand this topic, they become supporters of Sustainability.
Climate Change is the main subject that people think about when they hear the word “Sustainability”. Indeed, this is an important topic due to the severity of the affects globally if the temperature rises 1.5° Celsius; we will see catastrophe in all parts of the globe. I cannot understate this, however, there is much more to Sustainability as well.
Sustainability is about preserving resources and also protecting the environment which includes keeping water, land and air free from pollutions. Who wants to drink dirty water or breathe dirty air? There was a time in California where the air was amongst the most polluted, now California has amongst the cleanest air. This is due to policies put into place by the state government. Measures that I am pleased with as a lifelong Californian.
Sustainability is also about protecting the ecosystem. It is important to protect our ecosystem. Our ecosystem is delicate, if it collapses, we are all in danger. We have already lost a large part of the global bee population which is crucial to pollinating flowers and growing food. If the bees collapse, we collapse with them.
One more example is about creating opportunity and livable wages for people. It is important that a sustainable society is created and maintained that can provide people with a livable wage. This extends to education, medical facilities, and nourishment. I do not believe that this is such a radical idea. We want everyone to be self-sufficient.
There are many more examples that I can give what Sustainability is, now lets move on to the subject of ESG Reporting.
ESG stands for Environment, Social, and Governance for investors. There is another aspect of this missing which is Climate. An ESG Report measures a companies CO2 and reports this. It also discusses these other subjects as well. ESG Reports also talk about diversity in the workplace, as well as to show plans in areas that they need to improve in, so that they can become better stewards of the planet.
Over 90% of publicly traded companies already have ESG reports that they voluntarily disclose. The keyword here is voluntarily. They are not forced to do so. To put together an ESG report, to get grades, and deal with the auditors can cost companies a lot of money. However, these reports help to divert potential problems that can cost much more in the future. Shareholders have a right to know about potential risks and how they are being mitigated.
Going back to the affects of a 1.5° average rise since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the impacts will be devastating, icebergs collapsing and ice packs melting. This will cause a rise in the oceans and Seas. Florida would be in serious danger, with places like Miami getting wiped out. There is precedence in history, entire civilizations have been wiped out.
The rise of moisture in the air will lead to more severe storms. This causes a high financial and social costs on communities. Entire neighborhoods and livelihoods are lost, as well as displacing millions of people at a time. Storms are now becoming much more prevalent and severe.
We also should look at civilizations of the past. When I was in my Anthropology Undergrad, I learned that this biggest factor that caused the loss of societies was not warfare, it was the loss of resources. Entire civilizations crumbled due to the loss of resources; water being a major one. The lack of resources is also the largest cause of mass-migration. People naturally go to where the resources are.
As the last topic, I want to speak about the geopolitical implications of the lack of drinking water. Political Scientists believe that the next major world war will be fought over the lack of drinking water. It is also believed that the next world war could have nuclear weapons used. This is a nightmare scenario and let’s pray that it never happens. I do not believe that I am “woke”, I am just a person that cares about humanity and our planet, and I believe deep down, everyone does as well. It is part of our innate nature.
One other factor to consider is that ESG Reporting is now being done globally, not just in the USA, so if you prevent American companies from producing ESG Reports, then you are putting them at a competitive disadvantage. Also, it is government overreach, especially at a time when companies produce ESG Reports voluntarily.
I am hoping that by writing you three this letter, that is opens your minds up to other ideas and points of view, and not only you but people who are uneducated on this topic. Perhaps we can find a median where we can see issues that affect us all and start from there. I am sure it would not be too difficult to find. I am available to discuss this issue further. Like I said, I do not want to politicize this. We are brethren on this rock floating in this solar system. We all share it together, which means we all have equal responsibility to keep it safe, and to keep it preserved for future generations.
Steven W. Pearce