Recently I was talking to a room of people at a Chamber of Commerce meeting about how we can make a positive difference to the world as businesses. One of my slides on the screen at the front of the room was a distressing picture of Bangladeshis flooded out of their homes trying to escape the water. I was talking about the need for businesses to respect the environment more to reverse global warming, when I was overcome by emotion at the lectern.

Being affected like this by an environmental issue took me by surprise, but we should be emotional about the damage we are doing to our planet.

What affected me in that moment was the reality that people’s lives were being devastated by the actions of other people elsewhere in the world. Too often, what we hear about global warming is statistics about temperature increases and the thickness of the polar ice caps. What we need to see and be more aware of is the fact that people are dying due to climate change.

Despite the tears, it was not just pity or empathy that I was feeling, it was anger. Anger at the way, mainly over the past two centuries, businesses, particularly those from the western hemisphere, have acted purely for profit at the expense of the planet itself. Admittedly, years ago, some of these actions were done through ignorance, but many were pure exploitation of the planet, and they have all been extremely damaging to other human beings. Why did anyone ever think it was okay for a factory to tip its untreated waste products into a river?

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