SFSF - Schools For a Sustainable Future
Joseph Natoli, SFSF Project Director, surrounded by happy, enthusiastic children
synergy vol 1 issue 2

Synergy Issue 2, Oct 1999

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Window on the Future...
What I Learned in the Rainforest
by Tachi Kiuchi



The following is a keynote address to the World Future Society
on July 19, 1997, by Tachi Kiuchi,
Managing Director of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation,
General Manager of Global Communications,
Former Chairman and CEO of Mitsubishi Electric America,
and Chairman of the Future 500.
Mr. Kiuchi heads the Global Communications and Industrial Ecology Programs
of the Mitsubishi Electric Companies.


Thank you for the honor and privilege of speaking with you this afternoon.

I have been fascinated by the global perspectives I have gained at my first World Future Society conference, and I appreciate all that I have learned from you.

I come to speak on the two issues most vital to the future of my business, and perhaps of the world:

  1. the environment, and
  2. the emerging information economy.

To me, these topics seem intimately linked. Perhaps this is partly because I work for an electronics company, and I see our impact on the environment.

But my most important lessons about the link between business, environment and economy did not come from my company.


My most important lessons about
business and environment I learned in the forest.

Let me explain...


My first lesson in the forest happened 37 years ago, days after I graduated from the University of British Columbia. I was asleep when I got my lesson. This was unfortunate, because at the time I was driving a little British car through the forests of the Canadian Rockies.

It is not advisable to drive a car through the Rockies when one is asleep. You might drive off a cliff, which is exactly what happened to me.

When I woke up in the hospital, I had plenty of time to reflect upon what I could learn from this incident. I remembered advice that my father had given me a few years before.

He knew I was an adventurer, and a risk-taker. He liked that, but he didn't want me to have too much of a good thing. So he took me aside and told me: "Do whatever you want. But don't die."

I wanted to call my father to tell him that I had taken his good advice, but my jaw was clamped shut. So I couldn't.

He found out anyway. The Japanese Consul General saw an article on my adventure in the local newspaper, and sent it to him.

I have since passed along my father's advice to others. I think about it when people ask me what I think about sustainability.

To me, this is what it means:

    "Do what you want.    Follow your purpose.   But don't die."

For a young man, driving off a cliff in the Rocky Mountains teaches a valuable lesson.


Part 1       Part 2     Part 3      Part 4      Part 5



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