The Janitor

I remember sitting in my college class when one day our professor asked us who’s the most important person in your company?

The class gave several plausible answers to this question.  The answers followed as the President, because he owns the company, the CEO because he runs the company, the employees, because they do the work… and the answers kept coming, one more logical than the next, until our professor responded. 

Our Professor said the most important person in the company is the Janitor.  Yes, silence filled the room. If you think about it, it’s a very good observation because if an establishment is too hot, or too cold, people cannot work.  If an establishment is not clean, once again, people cannot work at their desks because it’s not healthy to work in poor sanitary conditions.  Our professor explained to us that unless the balance is maintained in an environment, the human interaction is disrupted, health is threatened, and hope of economic accomplishment dwindles. 

Now apply this concept in a global sense. We have weather, which may be sunny one day and rainy the next, and we have climate.  Climate is separate from the weather, (Watsuji Tetsuro, Fudo, and Climate Change).  We have a tropical climate that is generally warm and humid, we have meadow climates with pastures and sheep, and we have dry heat that one would find in desert climates.  

People are resilient and have adapted to their climates and have created their society around the elements.  Regardless of how harsh the climate, people have braved the weather, created their cultures, civilizations and cultivated their land to produce. 

Climate change appears to have been tipping the weather in most geographic areas to extremes. Places such as dry desert climates have received snow, the tropics has had severe storms and flooding, even North America has unusually cold weather to the extent that one could confuse spring, for cool autumn mid November. 

So, if the world is our company, and we are the employees living on this lovely blue planet, our janitor needs to flip the switch on the thermostat to bring back equilibrium.  

The use of the term “climate” has seemingly shifted, towards a focus on the natural world. It still has human activity as its central problem that has largely been redefined as one of the cause-and effect mechanisms. The debate revolves around the question of whether or not there is a climate change, and whether or not it was caused by human activity ( and assuming it was, which human activity caused the effects in question, and how can new human activity have ameliorating or healing effects?)

Watsuji Tetsuro , Janz : Journal of Global Ethics August 2011

The research paper makes some interesting points between climate, weather, and life.  The paper considers the possibility that after cataclysmic events the climate will change in areas, and reverse the seasons, or change cold climates to more temperate and warm areas.  The question is speculated that perhaps this is the natural cycle of the planet, as it obviously appears to have had such changes in history recorded already.   Nevertheless, life and humanity continue, as we resiliently adapt to the change of new environments. 

The question concerning technologies was eloquent in pointing out the limits in such thinking. Our technology turns us into users of that technology, and when that technology depends on turning the natural elements of the world into standing reserve, the result is that we come to think of ourselves as outside of the world, all powerful and able to manipulate the world into whatever form we desire…. The technological dream underlies the hope that climate crisis will be solved by a new piece of technology, ignores the fact that we are just continuing a relationship into technology that produced the problem in the first place. We believed that we would be able to turn the world into raw material for our uses. In fact, we could not, and the world is now answering back.

Journal of Global Ethics: Research paper: Watsui Tetsuro, Fudo, and Climate Change, written by B. Janz.

The very notion that our janitor must flip a thermostat switch shows how dependent we are on technology for environmental control. So, tell me, who do you think is the most important person in the company called Earth?

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