Wednesday, September 8


Wow. I already adored Teresa Heinz Kerry (and appreciated John Kerry as one of those men manly enough to marry a smart woman), but reading this interview with her environmentalist son, Andre Heinz, my respect went up a couple of more notches, as the mother of this remarkable son. Excerpts:

People often say the biggest concern is that Bush puts industry interests first at the expense of public interest. But I would clarify it this way: Bush does the bidding of certain industries and certain voices within industry. There are some who would be ready to make the move toward sustainability with the right leadership or a few incentives.
More importantly, for all industry, Bush is their gravedigger. He's the worst business leader as a president we've had. He sticks his head in the sand. He doesn't realize that the markets of tomorrow are already being defined and will continue to be increasingly defined by the indisputable fact that we have fewer and fewer resources, and more and more pollution on our planet, and the dynamic is being accelerated as a function of more people with higher standards of living at high levels of certain kinds of materialization worldwide.

Q: What would four more years of Bush mean?

A: It would mean another four years of Americans dragging their asses with respect to modernization. Imagine the rest of the world gets to a level four years from now where they go, OK, we've got huge purchase orders for clean technologies from India and China, the economies of the other countries have grown. America is all of a sudden the one that can provide only the dirty services, only the dirty products.
Four more years of Bush would mean less and less regulation; more and more localized pollution; more and more globalized pollution; more and more externalization of problems in other nations; less and less international goodwill.
Q: Kerry seems to have gone out of his way to avoid oversimplification, to talk in shades of gray -- and of course he gets slammed by the other side for flip-flopping.

A: Despite the pressures, despite the pundits, despite the hammering in the press that he takes for not slinging crap and mud back at the other side, for not being exciting, despite it all he doesn't buckle. He believes that people deserve to be told clearly what they're being offered. I think he believes in people making informed choices and taking responsibility for those choices.
Q: Still, we are the consumers who are driving the demand for clean products and moving sustainable markets. Shouldn't we be held accountable for our personal decisions?

A: Sure, and I try to do my part in that. Let's put it this way: I'm somewhat ashamed to have a gas guzzler, but I'm relieved that I never get a chance to drive it. [Laughter.] My point is there are still those who say you can't talk to the environmental issue unless you live in a cave and wear a hair shirt. But I'm not sure that that's the best poster child for recruiting people to this movement. The future of the environmental movement is going to be less about asking people to change their lifestyle, and more about changing the rules that cause the footprint.

Q: In other words, we have a design problem.

A: Yes, we have a design problem. Once you get that, once you see it, once you know it, it really alters the way you think. You always want to relate everything that's being done back to the overall question: Is this moving us closer to or farther from the goals for a sustainable society? What we need to do is get our leaders in industry and policy to see that. And despite the tremendous obstacles posed by the current administration, I think we're on our way.


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