Conversations You Won’t Overhear This Fall

As the summer ends and real work begins again, no one–from oil barons to politicians–is saying the things they should be saying.


As summer gives grudging way to our back-to-work lives, busy execs will likely compare notes at Chamber of Commerce luncheons about the economy and job creation. We can all imagine those conversations, given recent market and political news, but here are a few you won’t be likely to overhear.

Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon/Mobil: Hey Russ, I can’t wait to get my hands on some of your expensive, hard-to-refine oil from the Canadian tar sands for my refineries in the lower 48. What’s the hangup? The White House?

Russ Girling, CEO of TransCanada: Nah, Rex, President Obama is playing ball, but I’m really concerned about the EPA’s ozone rule. If he doesn’t delay tightening that screw, we’ll run the pipeline to Beijing instead.

Rex: Ha! What would China do with all of that oil? Make plastic toys and sell them to Americans? C’mon, get real. But you make a good point–Exxon/Mobil just won’t refine oil and sell fuel any more if that ozone rule gets tightened. After all, we can’t risk reducing any tiny fraction of the $10.65 billion profit we made in the first quarter of 2011 just to save a few people from getting asthma.

Of course CEOs aren’t the only ones who will gather and schmooze as leaves start falling faster than demand for Euro-bonds. Imagine the next National Governors Association meeting:

Texas Governor Rick Perry: Whew, sure is hot in the Lone Star State these days. New record for number of days over 100 degrees and the drought sure left us parched. Big strain on the power grid too.


Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin: Oh Rick, y’all think you had it bad, the average temperature in all of Oklahoma for July was nearly 90, a new record for the all-time warmest calendar month for any state in the US during any month! You know, Rick, global warming really is taking an economic toll.

Perry: Darn tootin’, lil’ lady. And I have just the plan to deal with the energy crisis and global warming–learned it from my days with Al Gore–solar. Yup, turns out the solar industry was one of the few in America that has a trade surplus over the past decade, according to the new Solar Energy Trade Assessment.

Fallin: Great idea! We could help companies manufacture more solar panels in our states and sell them to China and Europe, but we could also use them here to generate clean power immediately.

Perry: You bet. I’m told that both of our states have lots of sunshine and we pay nothing for it, compared to the fully-laden cost of coal or oil. What a deal!

Finally, celebrities are always at Hollywood parties and the conversation inevitably turns to raising the debt ceiling or bilateral trade issues, but you won’t hear this one:

Oprah Winfrey: Did you hear about the delay in the technical report from the US Coast Guard and Bureau of Ocean Management on the exact causes of the BP oil spill last year? I was counting on that as the September selection for my book club, because I know how everyone wants to learn how to avoid paying such a dear price ever again for our oil addiction.

Lady Gaga: Bummer, Oprah. BTW, is wearing beef after Labor Day “in” or “out” this year?

No, you won’t overhear any of those conversations in the foreseeable future, but if we read the news carefully and connect the dots of how the world really works, it may enlighten us to uncover some new ways to get us out of the economic doldrums of late 2011.


[Image: Flickr user Gage Skidmore]


About the author

From his youth in Australia to career experiences in Europe, Africa, China and across the United States, Terry has developed expertise in business, farming, education, non-profit, the environment, the arts, and government. A United States Coast Guard-licensed ship captain, Terry has long been drawn to the undersea world, starting in the 1960s with a family-run tropical fish breeding business in Australia and continuing with studies on conch depletion in the Bahamas, manatee populations in Florida coastal waters, and mariculture in the Gulf States with Texas A&M University. On land, Terry managed the largest sheep ranch east of the Mississippi, assisting the University of Minnesota in developing new methods of livestock disease control. Terry also managed a multi-million dollar real estate company, owned a successful recreational services business, and assisted the West African nation of Nigeria with the creation of their first solid waste recycling program. In 1993, Terry founded the Santa Monica BayKeeper and co-founded additional Waterkeeper programs in five California watersheds