Bottom Line

Smoking hot action on climate change wins accolades

A CIGARETTE – that is, a smoking – company has been recognised as a global leader in climate change.

No, seriously, Bottomline will repeat the accolade, as all great WTF news reports (Editor’s Note: does that stand for World Tobacco Federation? ) are wont to do:

A cigarette company – in fact, Philip Morris International Inc, creators of Marlboro, the number one global cigarette brand.— has won international accolades for the action it is taking on climate change. 

The announcement was made in one of the most serious, official and no-tongue-in-anybody’s cheek towns in the world: Lausanne, Switzerland. So it’s gotta be as sound as a Swiss timepiece and a yodel put together.

To put this into context, a company built on putting carbon dioxide, monoxide and particulate tobacco smoke into people’s lungs – and then inevitably into the atmosphere – has been acclaimed by ‘climate authorities’ for helping to reverse dangerous global warming and probably apocalyptic climate change.

The official statement read:

“For the third consecutive year, the company is on the CDP’s ‘Climate A List’ for taking comprehensive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change, and for its transparent disclosure process.”

CDP, by the way, was formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project. Even as an acronym of its former self CDP is pretty confident in claiming it is “the leading international not-for-profit organisation assessing the work of companies worldwide in the area of climate change”.

What happens is, “Thousands of businesses submit annual climate disclosures to CDP for independent assessment against its scoring methodology.”

Now, here are the facts as we seem to know them from the CDP news release:

Philip Morris International’s ranking places the company among the top 9 percent of corporations, known as ‘A Listers’.

And, get this, CDP’s Climate Change benchmark report is produced at the request of 827 investors with assets of US$100 trillion. (Editor’s Note: What the hell does that mean – and who … what … how much money?)

By way of explanation, for our Bottomline Editor, as much as anyone else, Philip Morris International’s head of Environmental Sustainability (Editor’s Note: usually we would present his title as Environmental Sustainability head, but that just does not sound right …), Andy Harrop was delighted to say:

“We’re very pleased to be included on the CDP A List again, and remain dedicated to playing our part in limiting global warming. Building on the reduction of 200,000 tons of CO2 since 2010 across our operations, and our continued action to promote sustainable tobacco production and environmental improvements across our value chain, next year we will announce a suite of new targets based directly on climate science.”

And there is more good stuff from Mr Harrop. He exhaled::

“PMI (Editor’s Note: That’s Philip Morris International, right? Not the Project Management Institute or Private Mortgage Insurance or Private Medical Insurance?) encourages strong action on climate change and supported an ambitious outcome to COP21 in Paris last December. With the Paris Agreement now entering into force, we look forward to working with others in facing the challenges and opportunities of climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

Now, here’s how all this works: The Climate A List is released in CDP’s report, Out of the starting blocks: Tracking progress on corporate climate action. This, CDP says, “establishes the baseline for corporate climate action and recognises that global corporations have started the transition towards a low-carbon economy, with some already capitalising on the opportunities this affords”.

Makes sense.

Such a report is used to show companies’ progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This is in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement and companies will be tracked against this baseline in future annual reports by CDP. Beaut.

And as CDP points out, the 1089 companies it is working with globally would, if they could kindly stick to their plans, take 1-gigatonne of carbon emissions out of our beloved atmosphere (which, CDP cleverly acquaints to the same emissions as 291 coal-fired power stations in one year).

So, the bottom line is that Bottomline is not critical of any of that, in fact Philip Morris’s actions are surely to be applauded.

We just think it would seem incredibly ironic that a tobacco company may be heroically saving the world from carbon-emission induced global warming.

Maybe it will make more sense when the Marlboro man’s trusty steed canters to the high snowy mountains of Switzerland, where the real flavour is, then rears up and our cowboy draws nothing but a broad smile upon his lips, punctuated by a hi-tech carbon-free reduced-risk e-cigarette.

Ahhhh … Marlboro Country …

Would you hire this man? (He's a bit Brent)

Bottomline has been  mysteriously sent a copy of the CV of David Brent’s – star of The Office documentary and now featuring in a film about his triumphant new life as a rock star, video hit maker and, importantly, salesman. Or, as he more modestly likes to call himself David Brent: Friend, Boss, Entertainer.

THE BRAVE people at stationery and office supplies specialists, Euroffice, have forwarded Business Acumen a peculiar – but timely – CV of a man who may or may not be the star of the popular UK ‘documentary’, The Office: David Brent.

Apparently Euroffice cannot employ him at this time, so are passing his CV ‘down’ to Australia in an effort to assist this man of immense and intense talent – who also happens to be starring in a feature follow-up documentary at the moment, David Brent: Life On The Road.

We, too, do not have a suitable role for Mr Brent at this time, so in the true spirit of his up-and-coming hit single, Equality Street, we present his CV here for the esteemed consideration of HR departments and other ilks Australia-wide.

Quotable Quotes

Here are some more gems from Laura Francis’s inspirational weekly e-newsletter, Killing It Online :


People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.

Zig Ziglar, American author, salesman and motivational speaker.


Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.

– Mark Twain, author and humourist.


You may only succeed if you desire succeeding; you may only fail if you do not mind failing.

–  Philippos Syrigos, journalist and author.


All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.

– Michael John Bobak, digital artist.


Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out.

– Robert Collier American author of self-help books.


Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

– Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Inc.


If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.

– Albert Einstein, scientist and innovator.


Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.

– Nathaniel Hawthorne, 19th century American novelist.


Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.

– John D. Rockefeller, American industrialist and philanthropist.


When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you. 

– Lolly Daskal, founder of Lead From Within.


The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success.

– Bruce Feirstein, American screenwriter and humourist.


What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.

– Oscar Wilde, Irish playwright, poet and novelist.


If you're going through hell keep going.

– Winston Churchill, author, historian and British Prime Minister in World War II. 


Name blame game

THEY just keep ’em coming …clever business names never seem to go out of fashion.

A classic is an American website that has registered hundreds of brand names for different business categories and developed stylish logos for them as well. The site provides a brand name, logo, and website address as part of the package and it performs this service because, it says:

“The initial impression customers have of your business derives from the business name. It is your first opportunity to attract their attention and begin to build brand awareness for your company. The most successful businesses have easily recognizable names that customers can connect with. Let us help you select a name that is right for you and ripe with possibility.”

This innovative company’s name? BrandRoot.

Er, not sure its message is as intended in Australia.

Here is a collection of clever sand catchy business names recently spotted by Business Acumen staffers … one unfortunately in the liquidation and administration notices … that might become an opportunity for someone new.

Hunky Dorys … Irish fish and chip shop.

A Salt & Battered Fish Shop.

Sofa So Good (in liquidation).

No Yelling Driving School (pictured, from Brisbane).

Pasta La Vista Restaurant.

Smart Arts Youth Festival, Sydney.

Reel McCoys – fishing tackle shop.

Lee Kee Shipyard – Hong Kong.

Cowabunga Milk Bar.

How’re They Hanging? – picture framers

Get it India – Indian Restaurant.

Thai Phoon

Thai Tanic



Sus about stainability

THE QUESTION keeps coming up at primary schools all over the country: "What's stainability really all about?" 

Well you may ask, little fellow, a certain famed Professor Julius Sumner Miller would once have said.

Sustain. Sus, from the Latin, Sus.  Meaning: under or below. And the Latin teneo: to hold. Combined, to keep in being, or in a certain state - at a proper level or standard.

Or the Australian Sus. Meaning: a bit of a worry. And stain, meaning, well, a bit of a worry.

It is not to be confused at all with stain, from the Latin: Stainus Maximus, not unlike gluteus maximus, or bottom.

This is self explanatory.

Actually, no, this is from the ancient French distain, and also from the Latin, tingo, or dye.

Ability, then, the suffix, is quite self explanatory too. The dictionary qualifies it as ‘sufficient power' or ‘being able' from the ancient French able.

So that's sorted. Our use of the word sustainability in its modern economic and ecological sense comes directly from the ancient forms that mean below keeping in a certain state.

Or, to put an Aussie derivative on it, a bit of a worry about things getting dirty.

But enough of derivatives. That sort of argument is just not stainable. So what's it really all about?

Let's hear what the world experts have to say ...

I believe sustainable use is the greatest propaganda in wildlife conservation at the moment. -  Steve
(1961-2006), Australian self-confessed wildlife warrior.

"Future generation is the most important thing." - Confucius.

"A wise man changes his mind; a fool never will." - Spanish proverb.

"We are seeing the birth of a new perspective of the world, where ecology and economics are two sides of the same coin." - Leif Johansson, president and CEO of the Volvo Group.

"Only to the white man was nature a 'wilderness'." - Luther Standing Bear, Indian chief.

"There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew." - Marshall McLuhan, Canadian philosopher (1911-1980).

"If we use fuel to get our power, we are living on our capital and exhausting it rapidly. This method is barbarous and wantonly wasteful. A far better way would be to avail ourselves of the sun's rays." - Nikola Tesla, electricity pioneer (1856-1943).

"I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait 'til oil and coal run out before we tackle that." - Thomas Edison, American inventor and scientist.

"Out of clutter ... find simplicity. From discord . . . find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." - Albert Einstein, physicist (1879-1955).

"The future isn't what it used to be." - Arthur C. Clarke, author and futurist (1917-2008).

"A man reaps what he sows." - Galatians 6:7.

"You cannot have everything. I mean, where would you put it?" - Steven Wright, American humourist.

"Human history is a race between education and catastrophe." - H.G. Wells, author (1866-1946).


It's possible to have sustainable quotes, but is it possible to have sustainable jokes? Is it possible to have a decent set of jokes about  (sus)stainability that give you a real belly laugh?

Apparently not. If you tap green jokes or sustainability jokes or climate change jokes into Google, you get more articles complaining that there are no such jokes than you do jokes themselves.

Here's what leaders in their field have to say (well, those we have not published in Bottomline before) ...

"President Bush toured parts of Missouri that were devastated by a recent tornado. There was one awkward moment, when the President looked at the tornado damage and said, ‘Don't worry, we're going to get whoever did this'." - Jay Leno,  US talk show host.

"Clean coal is a bit like wearing a porous condom - at least the intention was there." - Robin Williams, comedian.

"I hope that Live Earth ends global warming the same way Live Aid ended world poverty." - Chris Rock, comedian.

"President Bush has a plan. He says that if we need to, we can lower the temperature dramatically just by switching from Fahrenheit to Celsius" - Jimmy Kimmel, US talk show host.


Or there's the rare and, apparently classic climate science denier series:

How many climate sceptics does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: None. It's too early to say if the lightbulb needs changing.

A: None. It's more cost-effective to live in the dark.

A: None. We only know how to screw the planet.

A: None. Eventually the lightbulbs will right themselves.

A rollicking set, that ...

Which begs the real question about climate science - why is it so difficult to laugh at? In other precarious situations - such as wars, race and religious differences - we humans seem to be able to get some real belly laughs going, to break the ice.

Should anyone suggest that the polar bears are going for a swim to break the ice over global warming, we are unlikely to be greeted with enormous jocularity.

Even a few of the kids jokes - like ‘Why are we catching hardly any fish these days? Global worming ...' and ‘What did the one tornado say to the other? Let's twist again like we did last summer.' And, Before you snowboard down that hill, you must first CLIMATE.' - are so PC-laced they are unlikely to make the school yard ever again.

In fact, the biggest problem facing the entire climate change and sustainability movement could be the unsustainability of its jokes.



Political end ever?

BOTTOMLINE: The humour stakes seem to have risen in Canberra recently, with the arrival of Tony Abbott as Federal Opposition Leader – although one of the funniest examples took place in the central Australian Outback, reported by The Australian.

Mr Abbott and a small crew on quad bikes had boldly gone where no man had gone and got lost very much before, seeking out Aboriginal sacred sites in the Watarrka country.

The crew became a little concerned as darkness began to draw over the desert and their guides had not returned to lead them back to Kings Creek station. First, a message was drafted on a satellite phone which, with neither Mr Abbott nor anyone else able to discover the space bar, became WERELOSTNEARFOSSILCREEK. This was to be sent to his press secretary in Canberra, which would have had alarming consequences save for the fact that no-one could make it transmit.

An earlier message planned to be directed to the helicopter pilot back at the station, also unable to be sent, showed quick thinking under pressure by Mr Abbott in calling for an emergency drop: “Beer, water, food and rugs. Especially beer.”



Mr Abbott has found himself labelled as ‘gaffe-prone’ in his early weeks as Opposition Leader, and he has clearly been surprised by how some of his attempts at humour have been interpreted in the media.

So it was just a few decades earlier for Hollywood actor turned California Governor, and then US President, Ronald Reagan (known affectionately in Australia – at a time of possible thermonuclear annihilation of the planet, remember – as Ronnie Ray Gun).

Yet Ronald Reagan, the man who actually did bring about the end of the Cold War with the USSR, in consort with Mikhail Gorbachev, also found his natural humour misplaced and misinterpreted consistently during his time as Leader of the Free World.

His most famous incident came prior to a broadcast to America in 1984, when the Cold War was at its deepest. For a microphone test that was recorded, he chose to say: “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes.”

But, then, he could be ironic to the point of delightful honesty, such as this quip about the attitudes of government:  “The government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidise it.”

His distaste for big government was a constant that drew regular refreshingly humorous barbs such as: “Government does not solve problems. It subsidises them.”

And this one, while President: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help’.”

Along with this: “I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency – even if I’m in a Cabinet meeting.”

His self-deprecating style often worked against him, such as when the former actor was asked what kind of Governor of California he would make and he replied: “I don’t know. I’ve never played a Governor.”

Even way before environmentalism and global warming took hold among the general population of the US, he managed to infuriate the green movement by stating that “trees cause more pollution than automobiles”. He was talking about methane emissions from decaying old growth forests, compared with motor vehicle emissions controls in California. We know it, now, to be an interesting argument.

His reputation for easy delegation was not helped by his open quip: “They say hard work never hurt anybody, but, I figure, why take the chance?”

But quips about the economy were his speciality: “I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.”

Although he did have the occasional mis-spoken moment later perfected by George W. Bush: “We are trying to get unemployment to go up, and I think we’re going to succeed.”


Quotable quotes

“The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it’s unfamiliar territory.”

– Paul Fix, Hollywood character actor.

“Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

– Albert Einstein.

“This is like déjà vu all over again”

– American Major League baseball player, Lawrence Peter ‘Yogi’ Berra, who also famously uttered: “It ain’t over till it’s over.”



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