08/19/2008 02:50 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Profit-Loss Entrepreneur

Back in the 1950s, I read an article in (I think) Esquire magazine written by an author, name unremembered, who invoked Einstein's name to support his thesis that a business could not be considered profitable if in the accounting process the negative destruction of the environment was not considered in the final tally. The United States recognizes this view with the creation of the Super Fund, and the right to legally sue a business entity for the value of the environment it has destroyed or to force it to restore Mother Nature to the condition it was in before the engaged in business activity did the wrecking.

Today we read about Big Oil companies making enormous profits. We are told by global warming deniers, and others who are still undecided but "open-minded" to the possibility, that our economy will be destroyed if we stop using "black gold." But every drop of oil burned is a tiny dagger into the planet's health and environment.

Today, coral reefs are being destroyed as the acidity of the oceans increases with the rise in carbonic acid caused by the action of carbon dioxide with water. So? Hurricanes are more violent and rain storms stronger; droughts are more perverse and more regions normally bathed in decent rain are succumbing to intense forest fires. Mother Nature being Mother Nature? None of this is oil's fault!

Recently, the National Geographic television station put on a program, EARTH: THE ATMOSPHERE, that had a visual demonstration which exudes comprehension. A moderator and a scientist met on a frozen lake in Siberia, the region undergoing a milder than usual winter. They shoveled away the surface snow to see a thinner than usual ice surface, beneath which were easily noticed tiny bubbles. A few chops at the ice produced a hole. The moderator lay prone on the ice and extended his arm with a gripped lighter above the hole and snapped a spark. Instantly a fireball flame shot up many feet, the withdrawn hand barely avoiding a short time within its skyward path. Shortly thereafter, he did it again with the same result. The scientist, she the wise one, then educated her moderator companion.

Cause and Effect: Carbon dioxide produced global warming; global warming produced hotter permafrost; the rate of methane escaping from the permafrost into the atmosphere increased. Did you know that the global warming effect of methane is 16 (the lowest figure I have seen) times to 23 (the highest figure I have heard and reaffirmed by the scientist) times GREATER than carbon dioxide.

Two questions: WHEN -- not IF -- the global warming effect of methane overtakes that of carbon dioxide, do you expect the global economy to be viable? Do you want to be alive when it happens?

I will be dead when that time arrives which makes me both glad and sad. Glad because I will have lived a long life without want; sad, because being a person driven by curiosity, I wonder what it will feel like for everyone to witness Armageddon outside their window rather than in a movie theater or perhaps in traffic jams trying to get to gas stations to get enough fuel to drive into the mountains.