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Remember – November 19th

I write this blog on November 19, 2016, the 153rd anniversary of perhaps the most notable short speech ever given by a President of the United States.  The Gettysburg Address.

While only ten sentences in length, it remains one of the most powerful and meaningful speeches in not just American history, but of all time.  And in my opinion, the sentence that makes the Gettysburg Address so powerful is this one:

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”

Lincoln had no way of knowing that after November 19, 1863, that his humbling comment would be completely wrong.  The world not only noted what was said, but has memorialized it and teaches it in every high school history class.  The world remembered both what Lincoln said and what “they” – the soldiers from both the Union and the Confederacy – did on that battleground.

One of only two verified photos of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg on Nov 19, 1863.

One of only two verified photos of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg on Nov 19, 1863.

On June 1, 1865, just six weeks after Lincoln’s death, Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner would state in his eulogy for Lincoln:

The world noted at once what he said, and will never cease to remember it. The battle itself was less important than the speech.”

But of course, there is no history without some controversy.

Lincoln was asked to speak at Gettysburg to dedicate and commemorate the establishment of the first national cemetery for fallen soldiers, but President Lincoln was not the featured speaker.  Rather, Edward Everett, a noted orator and former president of Harvard University, delivered the keynote address at the dedication.  His speech was more than two hours long and was said to have been bold and powerful.  But it was a 272 word, two minute long speech by Lincoln that would become famous.

The Gettysburg Address has been memorialized in the walls of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC – at least one version of it.  Did you know there are five versions of the Gettysburg Address?  And although all five have been verified to be in Lincoln’s handwriting, each one has slightly different wording

The version that has become the standard and most used is called the Bliss copy, but it is suspected that it was not the original version given by Lincoln.  After Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, he was asked for copies of it.  The Bliss copy is the last known copy penned by Lincoln and the only one that he dated and signed on the original manuscript.  It was written for, and given to George Bancroft who wanted to use it to raise funds for soldiers.  Bancroft was a historian and would pass the original copy to his stepson, Colonel Alexander Bliss.  That copy is now on display in the Lincoln bedroom at the Whitehouse.

Other copies were penned by Lincoln for other close friends and political partners.  The copy given to John Nicolay, President Lincoln’s personal secretary, is thought to be the first draft of the speech and is owned by the Library of Congress.  The Hay copy, given to Whitehouse staff member John Hay, is thought to be the second draft of the speech and it has notes and edits in Lincoln’s handwriting on it.  It is also kept at the Library of Congress.  The third copy is known as the Everett copy.  It was penned for Edward Everett, the keynote speaker at the Gettysburg national cemetary dedication and is kept at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Illinois.  The fourth copy is the Bancroft copy and was provided to George Bancroft after the version that is known as the Bliss copy.  The Bliss copy was written on both sides of a piece of Whitehouse stationary and thus could not be used for lithographic engraving.  Bancroft asked Lincoln for another copy, written only on the front side of the paper, so that he could reproduce it and use it for his fundraising effort.  That copy is owned by Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

The Gettysburg Battlefield and National Park as seen today.

The Gettysburg Battlefield and National Park as seen today.

While the history, and the fact that Lincoln wrote multiple copies, from memory, and they all have slightly different wording, is interesting, the most important fact about the Gettysburg Address is that it was delivered at a time when our great county was in turmoil, divided and fighting over ideologies.  Lincoln’s speech was not only about memorializing the soldiers who died at Gettysburg, but it was also a call to action for those still living, to continue to fight both in battle and in politics, to ensure that America was preserved as one complete nation.

And so today, on the 153rd anniversary of The Gettysburg Address, I ask everyone who reads this to simply Remember.  We are one country, one nation – we must work together daily to preserve our country.

The Gettysburg Address (Bliss version):

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate – we can not hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here, have, thus far, so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Happy Birthday, Amelia Earhart

Amelia Mary Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas on July 24, 1897. Just the 16th woman to be issued a pilot’s license, Amelia Earhart would be 119 years old today if she had survived her around the world flight in 1937.

While Earhart is best known for being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and to perish while attempting to fly around the world along the equator, there was much more to her life. She was an inspiration to women and a pioneer in the aviation world.

After graduating high school in Chicago, Amelia spent a Christmas vacation in Toronto and observed wounded WW I soldiers returning from Europe.  Inspired to help, she volunteered as a nurses aid in the Red Cross, helping take care of wounded WW I pilots.  This would lead her to enroll in the medical studies program at Columbia University in New York.  However, after her first year at Columbia, she would quit college and move to California to be with her parents.

Kinner Airster biplane, the first airplane owned by Amelia Earhart.

Kinner Airster biplane, the first airplane owned by Amelia Earhart. From http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2132090

In 1920, Earhart’s life would change and her future would start to be molded.  After a 10-minute plane ride at the Long Beach Air Show, she became enthralled with flying.  She took odd jobs, including work as a photographer and a truck driver, to pay for flying lessons from noted female pilot Anita Snook. Just one year later in 1921 she bought her first airplane, a bright yellow Kinner Airster biplane, naming it “The Canary.”

Earhart was determined to make a name for herself and in October 1922 she flew her biplane to an altitude of 14,000 feet, setting a world record for female pilots. In May 1923, she became the 16th woman in the world to be issued a pilot’s license by The Federation Aeronautique, which was the worldwide governing body for aeronautics at the time.

When she ran out of money in 1924, she sold The Canary and worked as a schoolteacher and social worker until 1927 when she joined the Boston Chapter of the American Aeronautical Society. She invested a small amount of her savings into the Dennison Airport in Boston, where she worked as a sales representative for Kinner airplanes.

After she began writing articles to promote flying for a local newspaper, she began to attain some local celebrity status in the Boston area. In May, 1927, Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly non-stop across the Atlantic and a year later, Captain Hilton H. Railey, a noted pilot, asked Earhart if she would like to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. She said yes, only to find out that it would be as a passenger, not as a pilot or co-pilot. After completing the trans-Atlantic flight as a passenger on June 17, 1928, Earhart would say that she felt like a piece of baggage on the plane, but that someday later she would try it on her own.

Author George Putnam, whom Earhart would later marry, wrote the book 20 hrs., 40 mins in 1928, heavily promoting Amelia’s trans-Atlantic voyage and launching her to celebrity status. She was soon working for Transcontinental Air Transport, which would later become Trans World Airlines (TWA). She would then go on to become a vice president of National Airways, a new airline that flew routes in the northeast.

However, Amelia was not content with being a passenger and doing administrative work. She longed to fly and in 1929, she took to the air again, entering and finishing third in the first Santa Monica-to-Cleveland Woman’s Air Derby race.  In 1931, she set an altitude record of 18,415 feet. In 1930, she would become the first President of the Ninety-Nines, a professional organization of women pilots.

On May 20, 1932, the fifth anniversary of Charles Lindberg’s flight, Earhart took off from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland. Enduring bad weather and flight problems, she landed in Northern Ireland, becoming the first woman to fly solo, nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean.

That flight gained her many honors. She was awarded the National Geographic Society Gold Medal, the French Cross of the Knight of the Legion of Honor and the US Congressional Distinguished Flying Cross.  She also went on to set other records and complete many more “first flights” across the Pacific, the United States and Mexico.  She earned a total of seven speed and distance records between 1930 – 1935.

Amelia Earhart Lockheed Electra Airplane

Amelia Earhart next to her Lockheed Electra 10E airplane, circa 1936. From http://www.aviation-history.com/airmen/earhart-6a.jpg

In 1935, Amelia joined the faculty at Purdue University as a female career consultant and an advisor to the Department of Aeronautics. Her salary from Purdue allowed her to purchase a Lockheed Electra L-10E airplane and she began planning for her next record attempt: flying around the world along the equator, which is the longest distance to traverse the globe. Others had flown around the world, but had done it further north and on a significantly shorter route.

Her first attempt in March 1937 ended after the first leg, from California to Hawaii. While taking off in Hawaii, she blew a tire and her plane wrecked, causing heavy damage and requiring the plane to be shipped back to California for major repairs.  Just over two months later, on June 1, Amelia Earhart and Paul Noonan left Miami, Florida, flying east. Twenty-nine days and 22,000 miles later, they would land in New Guinea.

Earhart would become sick with dysentery for days while on New Guinea and finally, on July 2, 1937, Earhart and Noonan took off and headed toward a very tiny sliver of land 2,256 miles away, called Howland Island. Carrying extra fuel and ditching items deemed unnecessary while flying over the ocean, including parachutes, Earhart and Noonan had put together what they thought was a foolproof plan to ensure they reached Howland Island.  July 3, 1937 at 8:43 a.m. would be the last time anyone heard from Earhart, as she sent a radio message that they were flying north and south along the longitude of Howland Island, searching for their landing zone.

While dozens of theories have been proposed about Earhart’s disappearance, the fact remains that Amelia Earhart was a pioneer for both women and the field of aviation. She was known for being an able pilot who never lost her nerve or panicked. She set records, rose rapidly in a field dominated by men, and died doing what she loved.

For all 40 years of her life, Amelia Earhart was well Ahead of the Curve.

 

Sustainability needs to replace environmental compliance

Environmental compliance has always been a game of lagging indicators that creates a drain on profitability and is a necessary, but often inconvenient, requirement of doing business. Unlike a building permit or an elevator inspection, which cause minimal disruption, environmental compliance is a continuous process that can have a significant impact on an organization’s operational reliability and profitability.

Within most organizations, the environmental department of any company is often despised. More often than not, the environmental team spends a majority of their time telling operations and engineering that they cannot do something unless they install pollution control equipment and go through an often lengthy process of applying for and receiving an environmental permit.

State environmental agencies are well known for being slow when processing permit applications. It is normal for the process to take 12 – 18 months in most states. Often, by the time a permit has been issued, market conditions and economics have changed, rendering the project unprofitable. This situation results in wasted time and money by the company.

In other instances, a project can be profitable on paper, but once the environmental department reviews it and recommends changes, such as the addition of pollution control equipment, the increased capital costs push the project into a break-even or negative return.

Environmental compliance programs operate on lagging indicators. A lagging indicator is one that follows an event. In many cases, this is a small change in the method of operation. The change causes emissions to increase on a continuous basis, often at a rate that is small enough to be ignored. Eventually, the emissions exceed a permitted allowance and the facility finds themselves receiving a Notice of Violation from a state environmental agency. Violations often require the payment of a fine and spending money to fix the source of the problem.

Some facilities try to use leading indicators to manage their environmental compliance program. A leading indicator is one that can be used to predict a future event, such as a permit deviation. An example of this would be creating charts of historical emissions data and using the chart trends to predict a potential future regulatory violation. Sometimes this works and allows the company to take corrective action before the emissions limits are exceeded. This is a better approach than waiting to take action after a violation, but more often than not, businesses do not react properly to leading indicators. Whether it is due to a lack of resources or budget or just a poor attitude toward compliance, the EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) database is littered with repeat offenders who ignored the leading indicator and wound up in the penalty box.

Env and Econ Road SignThis is why environmental compliance, the act of merely complying with a rule after it has been made, needs to be replaced with sustainability. Sustainability is complex but has recently become a key industry buzzword. Unfortunately, many Fortune 500 companies create executive level sustainability positions just to say that they have a sustainability department. However, they do not practice or promote the concepts of sustainability.

The simplest definition of sustainability is “meeting current needs while ensuring that future needs can be met.” An illustrative example would be the person who plants ten rows of green beans in their garden. When the green beans are ready to harvest, they only pick beans from eight rows. The other two rows are left to mature and become seeds that they will plant the following year. Had they harvested all ten rows for food, they would not have ensured that they could meet their future demand for green beans.

Environmental sustainability is a slow process that can require a substantial, initial monetary investment. When looked at over time, the benefits can far outweigh the initial costs. In 2008, when I was working as a corporate environmental manager at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, we made a decision to become a Zero-Waste-To-Landfill (ZWTL) company. During the first year that waste was diverted from landfills, disposal costs more than tripled in the United States and Canada. After several years of work, the ZWTL program began making a small profit, all while preventing waste from being put in landfills and becoming a future liability at a much higher cost to correct.

The differences between a compliance and a sustainability program can be focused into six key areas, as noted in the below table. Compliance is classically an issue of damage control and cost minimization to soften the impact of a poorly managed situation. Sustainability, when implemented properly, is a business program that utilizes all departments and functions within an enterprise. It embraces environmental regulations to create a competitive advantage and a strong future for the organization.

Value

Compliance

Sustainability

Vision Looks backwards, usually at previous 12 months Looks forward, planning changes to the business to ensure a secure future
Stakeholders Opinion formers such as politicians, media, activist groups and citizens Full value chain, from suppliers to operations to customers
Management Managed after the fact by communications (explain why something happened) Managed by marketing and operations as an integral part of the overall business strategy
Business Corrective action after a problem has occurred Creating a competitive advantage
Reward (Risk) Lack of attention from politicians, media, activist groups and citizens Increase revenue, industry leader, strong public image
Driver Protect reputation and prevent scrutiny Open new markets, improve performance and ensure strong future

Environmental Sustainability is a concept that very few business leaders seem to grasp. This is because today’s business leaders are bi-focals 1nearsighted.  In this era of ‘instant everything’ including profits and stock prices, leaders often choose to ignore the idea of spending capital on a discretionary environmental project that has no immediate rate of return. This may maximize profits today, but by ignoring both current and future environmental policies, these leaders are dooming their businesses to year after year of reduced profits as they spend capital after-the-fact to correct non-compliance situations.

In my 26 years of industrial environmental work, environmental violations are almost always due to poor planning, inadequate budgeting and a general apathy toward environmental.

Ignoring the movement from basic Environmental Compliance to Environmental Sustainability is like playing Russian roulette. The game can last a long time without any consequences, but eventually everyone loses.

It’s time for industry to replace the outdated concept of Environmental Compliance with Environmental Sustainability and get Ahead of the Curve.