Building Resilience and Sustainability from the Bottom up!

I was once advised not to talk about climate change in my blog, as it is not a very popular topic compared to health, being eco-friendly, sustainable living, or zero waste.

The fact is, I have to talk about it, how can I pretend to ignore an issue I care so much about? Climate change is already affecting people’s homes, livelihoods, health and happiness. I would not be serving my readers or the business community without talking about it.

Adapting my own life to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapting my home to cope with climate related problems is really important to me. I have made good headway but there is much more to do in the coming years.

Don’t give up your personal power

Okay, so there are many people that do not want to deal with climate change. They want to go back to being able to do what they want without any consequences. They are afraid of what they will lose, their livelihoods, opportunities, they are afraid of costs going through the roof with carbon taxes. I get it, because even though I have years of training and experience in energy and environmental matters I found the issue too terrifying to deal with for quite a while. The other problem with ignoring climate change is that you are giving away your power to act to other people.

I am here to tell you that by changing our approach to the problem we can build sustainable, resilient lives and businesses. We can take the power back from governments and big companies serving their own interests and create solutions that work for us as individuals, families, communities and small businesses.

Here is some of the technical (not boring) bits

There are three parts to us addressing climate change:

  1. Adapting to climate change as it is already here.
  2. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions quickly to reduce more dangerous impacts.
  3. Be prepared for disasters through planning, response and recovery.

If the three parts are tackled in a smart way, we can probably come up with solutions that help more than one area of the parts. A really simple and probably overly basic example is by planting a community food forest and garden in an urban setting. This can reduce greenhouse gases, cool the urban space in place of concrete and asphalt, provide areas for stormwater to soak into the ground rather than running off, and provide a variety of food.

Another example may be how we supply our electricity by using more local, renewable, modular power generation we can reduce emissions and reduce the likelihood of large scale power failures.

Creating sustainable lives

Our current approach to this problem is to tax or make cuts from the top. Use less fuel, make cars and houses more efficient, eat less meat (but eat meat made in a lab). I will tell you now this will not work on a large scale. It will not transition us to low carbon, sustainable lifestyles.

Why? Because with more efficient cars we just buy larger vehicles and drive more, but feel less guilty about it. We buy larger houses; we buy more stuff to fill our big houses with. The end result is that we use more, not less fuel, material, and electricity. If you don’t believe me just think about going on a diet or eating low calorie diet food. You almost always end up eating more because it has fewer calories (per serving) and the end result is that you eat more.

The new approach

The approach that will give us prosperous, high quality lives that are also environmentally sustainable is to build and create our lives from the bottom up. In other words, we need to look at what we truly need to live happy, healthy lives and then build up from there.

Thankfully, this topic has been well studied and there are people working on creating this future now. The basic needs list I like to use is: food, water, warmth, shelter, security, health, autonomy and connectedness. I think you will agree that even in our current society that some of these needs are not being met.

There are other lists, for example, non-material human needs such as affection, understanding, participation, creation, recreation, identity and freedom.

Can you honestly say that all your needs are being met now? I think you can also see that there are lots of ways to meet these needs and have a lot of fun without using fossils fuels, or large quantities of materials.

Hopefully, I have got you thinking, just a little bit that making some change may not be all bad.

Live a prosperous high quality equitably shared sustainable life
Fulfilling our needs to live a good life.

Building resilience

The other aspect we do need to build into our lives, communities and businesses right now is resilience. Climate related disruptions are already happening and we must be prepared for a lot more. Not only have we built ourselves environmentally unsustainable businesses and societies, we have lost a lot of our resilience. The global economy, where goods and materials are shipped huge distances and supply chains criss-cross the globe means that a major disruption on the other side of the world can impact us.

Resilience is the about the ability to absorb the effects of disasters and bounce back to normal as quickly as possible. This can be applied to people, communities, organizations and operation.

I have seen a statistic on an operational resilience expert’s website that more than 40% of businesses do not reopen after a catastrophic event. That really sucks.

What would happen to you or your family if your business or employer suddenly closed? How would the loss of a building, supply chain interruption or a large crop failure affect you?

This is why we need to plan for resilience, and when you plan it in with changes to make your business more environmentally sustainable you are really creating a business that should also be more financially sustainable too.

Climate action, really is win, win, win…

I hope I have shown you a few ways that taking climate action and building in resilience will give you multiple wins or can at least help prevent you from having a huge loss. Until next time.

Check out upcoming posts to help you build sustainability and resilience into your life and business.

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