Can eating kangaroo save the planet?

This is a long post, so please feel free to skip it.

SuperFreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner is a terrific read. And yes, one of the topics discussed in the book is about kangaroos and global warming. In short, apparently the average American household could help reduce greenhouse gases by simply switching from eating beef to eating kangaroo. And why is that? Because kangaroo farts, and I am not making this up, don’t contain methane. (Sure this is a fact, but the real question is: does it move people?)

As much as I was amused by the kangaroo story, it was not one of my favourite ones. One of the stories I like the most involves Robert McNamara, a trained statistician with degrees from Berkeley and Harvard. In 1946 McNamara joined Ford Motor Company where he soon became absorbed by, back then, rather novel concepts such as safety and fuel economy. He was particularly concerned with the deaths and injuries from automobile accidents. Here is a little taste:

“In a crash, the driver was often impaled on the steering wheel,” McNamara says. “The passenger was often injured because he’d hit the windshield or the header bar or the instrument panel.” McNamara orders new Ford models to have a safer steering wheel and a padded instrument panel. But the best fix, he realized, was also the simplest one. Rather than worrying about what a passenger’s head would hit when he was flung about during an accident, wouldn’t it be better to keep him from being flung at all?

…”I calculated the number of deaths we’d prevent each year, which was very high,” he says. “And this came at essentially no cost, with no great penalty for wearing them.” McNamara had all of Ford’s company cars outfitted with seat belts. “I flew down to visit an assembly plant in Texas,” he recalls. The manager met me at the plane. I buckled my seat belt, and he said, ‘What’s the matter, you afraid of my driving?'” That manager, it turned out, reflected a widespread sentiment about seat belts. McNamara’s bosses saw them as “inconvenient, costly and just bunch of damn nonsense,” he says. …McNamara was of course right: the seat belt would eventually save many lives. But the key word is “eventually.”
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My 2¢: When was the last time someone changed your mind? How did they do it? Think about it… How do you move people? What is perhaps the most predictable mover of people? One word: emotions.