Risk: Wildfires, Hurricanes & Brexit

New writing… My latest piece for The Hub – the award-winning content platform curated by Mitsubishi Electric – looks at climate risk and extreme weather events, particularly as they affect business. In addition to the tragic loss of over 10,000 lives last year alone, the cost of natural disasters in terms of consumption ran to more than half a trillion Dollars. Furthermore, major ports worldwide are having to factor into their forward planning the threat of disruption from the effects of ongoing sea-level rise. To discover the scary and compelling statistics that tell the climate breakdown story, please read ‘Risk: wildfires, hurricanes & Brexit‘. (If you are interested in learning what business can do to help mitigate this risk, the second instalment in this two-parter – ‘Resilience’ – will follow on The Hub shortly… )

Explainer: How Microplastics Threaten Our Environment

Microplastic pollution is being found everywhere, literally: it is in our rivers; on our gardens; in the food we eat; it is even now in human poop.

Perhaps the worst aspect of microplastic pollution is that no effective and efficient way of removing the full range of debris has yet been found.

The EU has, however, recently proposed a wide-ranging ban on the use of ‘intentionally added’ microplastics, which if approved into law could see a phase-out starting 2020.

Meantime, recovering plastics from oceans and recycling them before they start to break down into small fragments is one way to fight this kind of pollution. When recycled, these plastics are used to create sustainable products.

This excellent infographic below, from Roman Chaloupka and GreenMatch, tells us more about how Microplastics Threaten Our Environment.

You can view the original, also learn about becoming ‘waste aware’ and fighting pollution, as well as the creators themselves here; plus Follow them on Twitter.

Micro Plastic Pollution

Changing the word on waste: ‘Future of Food’ in The Times

New writing… Pleased to say I have had another article published in The Times newspaper, as part of a special Raconteur report on Future of Food.

Despite population growth and increasing famine, 1.6 billion tonnes of food is lost or wasted worldwide, every year. With an estimated carbon footprint of 3.3 billion tonnes, this food waste eats up 28 per cent of the world’s agricultural area and drinks enough water to fill Lake Geneva three times. My piece explores some of the many innovations happening worldwide around food waste: from industrial-scale anaerobic digestion, via almond hulls and shells being put to good use in California, to beer made from surplus bread, plus simple sustainability hacks for bartenders that could save over 60,000 limes in London alone. For all the exciting opportunities engaging farmers, manufacturers, entrepreneurs and start-ups, however, policymakers still need to come to the party in numbers and force, if the headline stats are really going to change. You can read more about both the ongoing problem and the emerging solutions, here:

‘Rethinking food waste as a resource’.

The full 12-page Future of Food & Beverage report is available to view/download here.

Are you ‘Living the Planetary Dream’?

If you take many of the good things about the concept of the American Dream – such positives as aspiration, opportunity, entrepreneurship, self-realisation, self-reliance, hard work, wealth distribution and financial security – and apply them to living within planetary boundaries, you get a new paradigm for economic and personal growth: ‘Living the Planetary Dream’.

The phrase ‘American Dream’ was coined by historian James Truslow Adams in his 1931 book Epic of America:

“The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”

This original concept was very much built upon key principles and values enshrined in the United States Declaration of Independence of 1776: democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality, in the pursuit of happiness and prosperity.

Tellingly, Adams’ definition was born out of the struggle against poverty, hardship and social injustice engulfing America during the era of the Great Depression. Over the decades since, however, the concept has increasingly been associated in popular culture with images of success measured merely in terms of upward social mobility and accumulation of material wealth. In effect, the ideal has become impoverished, reductively rewritten to serve narrow self-interest in the Age of the Consumer.

Furthermore, the US itself is today one of the most commonly cited examples of extreme unsustainability in terms of ecological footprint, with its citizens’ consumption of natural resources equating to a global demand that would require four Planet Earths to satisfy.

So, what if we were to reclaim the dynamic spirit and sense of social value that informed and inspired the original Dream, but interpret it anew for a resource-constrained world of over-consumption, rampant pollution, morally-corrupt exploitation and human-made climate change? Reframing the core principles for equitable living within planetary boundaries, gives us the vision for the Planetary Dream.

So what does it mean in practice to be Living the Planetary Dream?

First and foremost, it is not simply about environmental frugality. The Dream is not one of efficiency, or abnegation; it is not just about saying ‘No’. There has to be entrepreneurial dynamism to it; an element of value creation, of making and doing in a way that is good and green – innovating responsibly. This is the change-engine of sustainable growth.

Living the Planetary Dream, as a business, community, or private individual, means playing your part in the global decoupling of economic development from resource consumption and environmental impacts; and doing so in a fair and equitable manner.

As a lifestyle choice, the Planetary Dream should ideally also appear fun and exciting – desirable yet achievable. Its motivational spark can be personal, yet shareable – a driver for leaders and collectives alike. It must be a Dream for all of us, as well as for the Planet.

So, are you #LivingthePlanetaryDream?


For more about the Ecology Flag, please see here.

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