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经济学人:地毯哲学家雷·安德森

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Obituary;Ray Anderson;

讣告;雷·安德森;

Ray Anderson, America's greenest businessman, died on August 8th, aged 77.

雷·安德森,美国最具环保意识的生意人,于8月8日逝世,享年77岁。

WHEN Ray Anderson first encountered the concept at an international conference, it took his breath away. It was so smart, so right. It was flexible, practical, beautiful, and made perfect sense. He knew right then that modular soft-surfaced floor coverings (carpet tiles, in other words), could change the world.

当雷·安德森在一次国际会议上首次意外碰到这个小方地毯的概念时,他激动不已。因为这个概念是如此的高明,如此的准确,而且灵活,实用,美观,并且非常合情合理。那时他就知道这些组合式的表面柔软的地毯(换句话说,小方地毯)能够改变世界。

Others thought he was round the bend. When he decided to give up his job at Milliken Carpet in LaGrange, Georgia to set up a 15-person carpet company, and was clearing out his desk that February of 1973, two colleagues looked in. “We don't think you can do this,” they told him. He replied, in his languid, ever-courteous southern lilt, “The hell you say.” Fifteen years later his company, renamed Interface, was the biggest carpet-tile maker on the planet.

别人则认为他发疯了。当他决定辞去佐治亚州拉格兰奇市的米利肯地毯公司的工作去建立一个15位员工的地毯公司时,正是1973年2月的一天,当时他正在清理办公桌,两位同事进来帮了忙。“我们以为你不会这么做的,”他们告诉他。“你们在开玩笑吧。”他回答道,语气不仅悠闲自在,而且抑扬顿挫,却一如既往地谦恭有礼。15年后,他的公司改名为界面股份有限公司(Interface Inc.),并成了这个世界上最大的小方地毯制造商。

This also made Mr Anderson a considerable plunderer of the earth. He never thought about that at first. To his mind he was no more a thief of Nature than when, a country boy during the Depression, he had hooked 20-pound channel catfish, now long gone, out of the Chattahoochee River. His business complied with government regulations. His product, too, was much less wasteful than broadloom carpet, since you could easily cut the tiles to run cables underneath, and replace them one by one as they wore out. They were, it was true, almost entirely made of petroleum in some form or another. Some pretty bad stuff was used in the dye and the glue. More than 200 smokestacks blackened the sky to produce them. But boardrooms laid with Interface carpet tiles looked and felt a million dollars.

这也使得安德森先生成为了一位重要的地球资源劫掠者。开始的时候,他从来没有考虑过这点。在他看来,他已不再是一个自然界的小偷了。而当大萧条期间,当时还是乡村男孩的他还从从查特胡奇河(或意译为多彩的岩石河)(Chattahoochee River)钓上了现在早已没有了的20磅重的水渠鲶鱼。他的生意遵循着政府的规章制度,公司的产品也远不及阔幅地毯浪费那么多,因为人们很容易割断这些小方地毯而在下面铺上电缆,而且,当它们用坏了时,人们可以逐一替换它们。事实上,这些小方地毯几乎完全以石油的这种或那种形式制造而成。一些非常有害的东西可用于染料和胶水。公司的200多个大烟囱冒着浓浓的黑烟在生产这些小地毯。但是,铺上了界面股份有限公司(Interface Inc.)小方地毯董事会的会议室看上去让人认为相当豪华。

The turning point, his “mid-course correction”, came in 1994. He was 60, but not yet ready to retire to the mountains or chase a little white ball. Under pressure from customers to produce some sort of environmental strategy for his company, he got a small task-force together. Someone gave him a book, Paul Hawken's “The Ecology of Commerce” to help him prepare his first speech on the subject. Thumbing vaguely through it, he chanced on a chapter called “The Death of Birth”, about the extinction of species. Reading on, he came to a passage about reindeer being wiped out on St Matthew Island in the Bering Sea. Suddenly, the tears were running down his face. A spear-point had jammed into his heart. It was the very same feeling, he said later, as when he had first seen carpet tiles, but orders of magnitude larger. He was to blame for making the world worse. Now he had to make it better.

1994年,他的“中期修正”方案成了公司的转折点。那时他已60岁,但还没有准备退休后归隐山林或去打高尔夫球。在客户的压力下,为了替公司制定出某种环境策略,他组成了一个小型特别工作组。有人给了他一本保罗·霍肯的《商业生态》来帮助他准备关于这个主题的首次演讲。由于大致地翻看着这本书,他偶然发现了关于物种灭亡而称之为“出生的致死原因” 那一章。他就读了下来,看到一段讲述白令海圣马修岛上的驯鹿被杀戮殆尽了。突然间,泪水顺着他的脸颊流了下来,此时,一个矛头已经刺进了他的内心。他后来说道,这就是那种正如当他第一次看到小方地毯时同样的感觉,但是这次的强度要大的多。他注定要因使世界变得更糟糕而受指责,所以现在,他必须让世界变得好一点。

Interface, he decided, would leave no print on the green-and-blue carpet of the world. By 2020 it would take nothing from the earth that could not be rapidly replenished. It would produce no greenhouse-gas emissions and no waste. That meant using renewables rather than fossil fuel; endeavouring to make carpet tiles out of carbohydrate polymers rather than petroleum; and recycling old-carpet sludge into pellets that could be used as backing.

他决定,界面股份有限公司(Interface Inc.)将在这个世界的绿色和蓝色地毯上不留下任何痕迹。截至2020年,公司将不再使用地球上不能快速再生的资源。到那时,公司的生产过程将不再产生温室气体排放,也不会有浪费。这意味着公司将利用可再生能源,而不是化石燃料;并将努力用碳水化合物而不是石油制造小方地毯;而且还将重新利用旧地毯的沉淀物生产能够用于支持作用的小硬球。

Some of the technologies Mr Anderson hoped for (and half-envisaged, as a graduate in systems engineering from his much-loved Georgia Tech) had not been invented when he started. Several colleagues thought he had gone round the bend again. He had to bring them along slowly, in his quiet way, until they “got it” by themselves. But by 2007 the company was, he reckoned, about halfway up “Mount Sustainability”. Greenhouse-gas emissions by absolute tonnage were down 92% since 1995, water usage down 75%, and 74,000 tonnes of used carpet had been recovered from landfills. The $400m he was saving each year by making no scrap and no off-quality tiles more than paid for the R&D and the process changes. As much as 25% of the company's new material came from “post-consumer recycling”. And he was loaded with honours and awards as the greenest businessman in America.

当安德森先生刚起步的时候,他所希望的一些技术(作为他深深喜欢的佐治亚理工学院的一位系统工程研究生,他只是半想像这些技术)还没有发明出来。几位同事还以为他又发疯了。他不得不以他安谧悠闲的方式慢慢地培养他们,直到他们自己真正理解了这项技术。但是,到2007年为止,他估计公司会走在进行可持续性发展的半道上。自1995年以来,公司以绝对吨位计算的温室气体排放量下降了92%,水量下降了75%,而且从垃圾填埋场重新回收了7万4千吨旧地毯。他每年因不生产小方地毯的废品和不合格产品而节省下来的4亿多美元比研发和工艺变革方面的支出还要多。公司新材料高达25%来自“消费回收”。因而作为美国最环保的商人,他被授予了很多的荣誉和奖励。

Most satisfying of all, sales had increased by two-thirds since his conversion, and profits had doubled. For Mr Anderson always kept his eye on the bottom line. He could be sentimental, ending his many public speeches with an apologetic poem to “Tomorrow's Child” written by an employee after one of his pep talks, but he was only half a dreamer. His company was his child, too. Profits mattered. This made some greens snipe at him, but it also made Walmart send two of its senior people round to his factory in LaGrange to see what he was doing right. As a success, he could powerfully influence others.

最令人满意的是,自他转变以来,公司销售额增加了三分之二,而且利润增加了一倍,因为安德森先生始终密切关注着帐本底线。他可以是感性的,经常以一首对一位雇员所写的《明天的孩子》的道歉诗而结束了他许多的演讲。这位雇员是在他的一次激励性讲话后写下了《明天的孩子》。但是他只是个半梦想家。他的公司也是他的孩子,不过,利润很重要。这使得一些环保主义者们对他恶意中伤,但这也让沃尔玛派遣了几位高层人员到拉格兰奇的工厂,看看他到底做的是否合适。作为一位成功人士,他能够强烈地影响别人。

The forest floor

森林地面

He never dreamed of giving up carpet tiles. Their beauty and variety delighted him, just as Nature's did. In his office in LaGrange they were laid out like abstract art on tables, while hanks of yarn hung on the walls. His company introduced Cool Carpet?, which had made no contribution to global warming all along the supply chain, and multicoloured FLOR for the home, “practical and pretty, too”. He was proudest, though, of Entropy?, a carpet-tile design inspired directly by the forest floor. No two tiles were alike: no two sticks, no two leaves. They could be laid and replaced quite randomly, even used in bits, eliminating waste. And when you lay down on them you might almost be in Mr Anderson's 86-acre piece of forest near Atlanta, listening to the sparrows in the long-leaf pines, rejoicing in being a non-harming part of the web of life, like him.

他从来没有想到要放弃小方地毯。它们的美丽和多样性一如自然界的美丽和多样性,都能让他开心不已。在他拉格兰奇的办公室里,这些小方地毯就像抽象艺术一样摊开在桌子上,而多绞纱线则挂在墙上。他的公司推出了注册酷地毯(Cool Carpet?)为商标的地毯和为家庭推出了“实用而且漂亮”的多色彩的弗洛尔(FLOR)地毯。生产这种酷地毯(Cool Carpet?)的一系列的供应链上对全球气候变暖都不会起作用。但是,他最值得骄傲的是注册了熵(Entropy)为商标的小方地毯。这种小方地毯的设计直接受到森林地面的启发。没有两片小方地毯是相似的,因为没有两根枯枝或两片叶子是相似的。这些小方地毯可以相当随机地铺设和替换,即使用的很少,也杜绝浪费。当你躺在这些小方地毯上时,你或许就像在亚特兰大附近安德森先生的86-英亩森林的一部分,就像他一样倾听着长叶松上的麻雀叽叽喳喳,为成为生物织物的无害部分而尽情高兴。

重点单词   查看全部解释    
extinction [iks'tiŋkʃən]

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n. 消失,消减,废止

联想记忆
produce [prə'dju:s]

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n. 产品,农作物
vt. 生产,提出,引起,

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flexible ['fleksəbl]

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adj. 灵活的,易弯曲的,柔韧的,可变通的

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species ['spi:ʃiz]

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n. (单复同)物种,种类

 
inspired [in'spaiəd]

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adj. 有创见的,有灵感的

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scrap [skræp]

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n. 碎片,废品
vt. 舍弃,报废

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carbohydrate ['kɑ:bəu'haidreit]

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n. 碳水化合物,醣

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correction [kə'rekʃən]

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n. 订正,改正,改正的地方

 
channel ['tʃænl]

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n. 通道,频道,(消息)渠道,海峡,方法
v

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petroleum [pi'trəuliəm]

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n. 石油

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