It’s hot out there and getting hotter

Summer hasn’t even begun and already we’ve had horrendous fires in West Australia and South Australia, with hundreds of thousands of hectares of bush and farmland destroyed. Not to mention the lives of people, domestic and farm animals, and wildlife.

According to the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), 2015 is set to be the hottest year ever and 2011-2015 the hottest five year period on record. We’re in a strong (one of the three strongest since 1950) and strengthening El Nino event, so we can expect more extreme weather patterns to the detriment of agriculture, water, health and the economy.

WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarroud advises that ‘this naturally occurring El Nino event and human-induced climate change may interact and modify each other in ways which we have never before experienced.’

South East Asia is likely to experience further drought, which has already made it impossible to control the raging fires in tens of thousands of hectares of Indonesian forests as land is cleared to produce palm oil, devastating flora and fauna, maybe to the point of no return. Toxic smog has reached 2,000 on the Pollutant Standard Index in the worst-hit areas (above 300 is hazardous) and causing schools and other events to be cancelled and flights grounded in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia.

The central and eastern Pacific Islands are likely to experience increased rainfall, with a risk of extreme rainfall events, and the southwest Pacific Islands and south Asia reduced rainfall. India has already had 14% less rain than average, dampening its economy.

All very depressing. But opportunities also lurk, for individuals and business. CO2CRC, a leading Australia-based research organisation in the field of CO2 capture and geological sequestration, believes will produce renewable energy at the same cost as fossil fuel energy by 2030. There’s one opportunity: build a new business model or platform such as green energy.

Less ambitiously, you can build sustainability into your organisation’s core activities and supply chains in such a way that it becomes the source of new income and growth. Or you can innovate doing what you currently do but more sustainably and efficiently. At the very least, you can go for small, quick wins through continuous improvement: doing things better, more quickly, more easily, more economically, more safely or more reliably.

Individual careers and entire businesses can be built on a platform of sustainability. We can invent new products and processes that take us from destroying, dumping or downcycling to upcycling. Corporate strategy can move from ‘barely green’ compliance to ‘light green’ efficiency, ‘medium green’ strategic proactivity to meet the environmental demands of multiple stakeholders, or to ‘dark green’ commitment to actively seeking ways to respect and preserve the earth and its natural resources.

The phoenix can rise from the ashes when we concentrate our efforts on the right things.

Sources: WMO Press Release No 12
Indonesia’s fires labelled a ‘crime against humanity’ as 500,000 suffer
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