Danny Clark

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On November 28, 2017, Danny Clark commented on Climate Change is No Walk in the National Parks :

Emily, this is a really interesting write-up. You do a great job capturing how significant and existential the threat of climate change is to NPS, and the lack of obvious solutions to address the vulnerability of our National Parks.

In response to your question – I think that, unfortunately, adaptation rather than mitigation is the role of NPS in confronting climate change. To the extent that the damage of climate change is not already done, it will be propelled forward by industrial emissions that drastically outweigh NPS’s contribution to the overall problem. That’s not to say that NPS shouldn’t take whatever cost-effective solutions exist to reducing the carbon footprint of the parks – things like electric shuttle buses in Zion National Park during peak season, for instance – but the leadership of NPS should be clear-eyed about the need to urgently adapt and manage scenarios around the impacts of climate change on the National Parks.

I think the point you make on the need to communicate and educate the public on climate change is absolutely essential, and should be considered hand-in-hand with the mandate to adapt and preserve the parks in the face of a changing environment. The scale and grandeur of the parks, when taken in within the context of climate change and shifting environmental realities, is as powerful a tool as I can think of to convey the urgency of action on climate change to the general public.

On November 28, 2017, Danny Clark commented on The Little Smoothie Company that Could Faces the Big Bad Brexit :

Very interesting! Innocent sounds like they’re in a difficult position.

I think your example really nicely captures the unbelievable complexity and far reaching second- and third-order implications of the UK’s decision to exit the EU. Ironically, the period of uncertainty you cite in your question may in fact be the most stable time for Innocent in the coming years, as the outcome of the Brexit negotiations are virtually certain to irrevocably impair a long-term, multinational supply chain like Innocent’s.

Currency fluctuations aside, I broadly agree with DPI’s view that the outcome of the negotiations will put Innocent at a decision point on whether to raise the price of its smoothies significantly or begin production outside of the UK. This goes beyond the fact that half its fruit is sourced from Europe, and extends to the existence of multilateral trade agreements between the EU and other markets where it buys tropical fruit (e.g., Brazil, India). A central premise of pro-Brexit advocates was that disentanglement from the EU would give the UK much greater freedom for the UK to negotiate trade agreements on its own terms – a premise which significantly belies the practical difficulties of creating a new trade regime from scratch.

In any event, distortions stemming from the transition from EU multilateral trade agreements to individual trade agreements between the UK and the areas where Innocent sources raw inputs (including, but not limited to, the EU) will significantly alter the economics of the supply chain. If the long-term contracts you describe Innocent using to source their raw materials have no contingencies for such idiosyncratic events, I fear that the company may find itself in a dire predicament choosing between raising prices, reducing quality – or ceasing to operate altogether.

On November 28, 2017, Danny Clark commented on Time, Tide and… Massive Capital Expenditures, Wait for No One :

Great write-up. The military’s pragmatic approach to the threat of climate change is an under-reported but essential development, and you’ve addressed the real-world implications of climate change and military readiness nicely.

To your first question – while I recognize the military’s legacy as a forerunner of social progress on specific issues (e.g., desegregation, DADT), I think that framing is insufficiently expansive with respect to the issue of climate change. The threat of climate change, unlike other examples of socially regressive policy with respect to race, gender, or sexual orientation, is a practical and immediate readiness issue which immediately affects the posture of our military around the world. Clear-eyed assessments from the highest levels of the armed forces are unanimous in their belief that climate change is a risk to national security with many dire implications that you’ve highlighted – such as threats to existing installations and increased geopolitical strife driven by future resource scarcity and inhospitable climates.

Nearly seventy years ago, those advocating for integration of the armed forces could cite American values and equal treatment under the law as ideals worth embodying. Today, top commanders can – and should – do that and more, going beyond simply embodying our values of environmental stewardship and efficient use of resources and asserting the objective facts of the case to those who continue to frame climate change in partisan terms. I believe strongly that the objective facts plus the military’s history of clear-eyed pragmatism with respect to significant change adds gravity to the call to action against climate change, and will help drive the conversation forward in a way that (hopefully) can even permeate the political context we live in today.

On November 28, 2017, Danny Clark commented on Re-inventing NYT: Impact of digitalization on news media :

Interesting read! I agree with your assessment and the assessments of others that the NYT lacks a core competency outside of creating content, which is simultaneously empowering – as Alec points out, Amazon or others cannot imitate or automate this talent – and limiting – as NYT will be unable to compete seamlessly in every new medium that people use to get their information.

I think above all else, the NYT’s objective should be to create a product so essential to its consumers that they are willing to pay a subscription fee for the core offering of print journalism. The fun part is how to get readers “hooked” and moving down the funnel towards becoming a subscriber. Apart from cranking out top-notch journalism (a constant preoccupation), I’ve really enjoyed how the Times has started to experiment with format and delivery to adapt to evolving user tastes. For instance, NYT’s “The Daily” podcast is one of the top podcasts in terms of subscribers, and blends a combination of quick hit updates on top stories with a deeper dive into a matter of journalistic importance – all over the course of 20-25 minutes each day. It’s success makes me think about other formats that NYT could use to package and deliver its distinctive brand of journalism to meet consumers in the middle – television, film, documentary, newsletters (a la Politico Playbook). Clearly they’re already thinking about a lot of this, and it will be interesting to see how it evolves in the future.

On November 28, 2017, Danny Clark commented on Smartmatic: the role of blockchain in enabling elections :

This is a really interesting concept. I agree with what other commentators, particularly Matt Michel and StarP, have raised in terms of technology adoption concerns and risks of hacking a purely digital election system. You also do a good job outlining and addressing some of these concerns.

I think the most compelling application of blockchain technology to elections is an uneven one – employing it selectively along the VSC. For instance, I think the point your raise on the need for better and more reliable technology to replace archaic voter roll databases is essential. Using blockchain technology to add transparency and integrity to voter registration seems like a win-win – those with concerns about voter fraud will have the confidence of a transparent and distributed record of voters, while more people will be able to register and confidently participate in elections without risk of having their record incorrectly purged.

At the ballot box itself, however, I do worry that the 2016 election shows how digital security and information assurance best practices always lag behind the development and adoption of new technology. I believe that old fashioned paper ballots actually are the most difficult system of voting to manipulate (provided there are no major ballot flaws, a la Florida 2000…). A system by which individuals could register to vote and verify their registration via blockchain but vote in hard copy would be an interesting hybrid solution to increase the integrity of our elections.

On November 28, 2017, Danny Clark commented on NIKE: Is it the Sustainability Transformation of the Decade? :

Great read. I think that a viable business case for a sustainable product lifecycle is the most powerful tool that Nike has in influencing its competitors to follow suit – if Nike can save money in manufacturing while still delivering a superior product, cost-conscious competitors in the athletic apparel space will follow suit. The CSR and image benefits that accrue to the brand through sustainable practices are secondary, in my view, to the improved manufacturing efficiency and cost management that such practices offer.

I think that Nike can play a unique role in demonstrating that cost-efficient recycling practices in manufacturing will not compromise the performance of its products. I found what you wrote about products like Flyleather very interesting, as it shows how Nike’s investment in innovation in this space has allowed them to make a better, more sustainable product less expensively.

I am also struck by the magnitude of the opportunity that you describe in the apparel space. First-movers like Nike are doing a great service by embedding sustainable product lifecycle practices into their products, and less forward-leaning apparel companies should be able to lean forward using the same technology as a result. I’m interested in the extent to which these types of innovations are practical in faster moving consumer goods, like products in a Unilever or P&G portfolio. Like Nike, these are global companies steeped in supply chain excellence with a significant environmental footprint – it will be interesting to see if some of the less visible but equally culpable polluters in industries outside of apparel are confronted with the same cost-reduction, quality-preserving, and environment-conserving mandate from consumers or the media in coming years.