October Blog Challenge Results: O.R. and the Environment; November’s Blog Challenge: O.R. and Families

My mother worked for EPA for almost 20 years, instilling me with a respect for the world around me. The topic of O.R. and the Environment seemed like a natural (weak pun intended) fit. I was struck by the sentence in Patricia Randall’s blog entry, “While I am certain it is possible to include green objectives in a model, I haven’t had a client say ‘Minimize my emissions or my carbon footprint’. Or have I?” “Green objectives” need a paradigm shift from being viewed as going above and beyond, to being intrinsic to the fabric of good business. What O.R. and analytics are already doing is finding the best way to solve problems with optimum impact, and that optimization should include preserving the planet we all share.

There are many opportunities for OR/MS and analytics folks to include “greening” as an element of their analysis that protects the earth while streamlining supply chain networks and decision models, decreasing waste, and increasing revenue and production. Maybe the call is to go beyond the obvious solution, to add in environmentally friendly options, as a “value-added” service to your clients, or to calculate the impact to future generations of not implementing green measures. Of course, this could be viewed as Pollyanna thinking, that it isn’t financially possible, it’s too difficult, or that no one really cares about those types of objectives. But to quote a cute, mustachey guy (no, not Paul Rubin,) “I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.”

Thank you to everyone who submitted to this blog challenge, they will be included in the upcoming Focus On Environment, a compilation of articles from INFORMS journals. As we head into the holidays, the next blog (and perhaps personal) challenge will be O.R. and Families. Please email your entries to socialnetworking@mail.informs.org by December 12.

O.R. and the Environment

Extra Credit goes to Anna Nagurney and Laura McLay for two entries.

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