The “Zero Decade” and the Zero-Impact Feeling

NOTE: This post by Dr Katrin Muff is a continuation of ‘The Transatlantic Debate Blog, a series of articles published in 2014 forming a conversation between Katrin Muff and Kathy Miller Perkins on business sustainability. For more information and to read the posts, please click here.

Activists have come to call our current decade the “zero decade” – the decade in which we have the power to decide if we take action to keep human-made global warming within the relatively safe two degrees, or if we let the climate head off into spheres where the only certainty is that life will dramatically change for the generations after us. Is there anything we can do? Is there anything I can do?

I recently spent 40 hours on a train across India and took the time to read Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything book on climate change and what it will take for us to remain within the required two-degree temperature limit. Well, nothing short of getting rid of the capitalist system as we have come to know it! How? Nothing short of a revolution and global social unrest, she says. I don’t like social unrest – for many reasons – and I am sure I am not alone. The alternative? What if there is none?

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IPCC Chair Dr. Rajendra Pachauri receives a copy of Greenergized business fable

Pachauri_Alvarez_Greenergized[New Delhi, India Feb 10, 2014] Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and 2007 Nobel Prize awardee (with the IPCC and Al Gore) receives a copy of the Greenergized (UK: Greenleaf, 2013) business fable on clean energy from Philippine Climate Commissioner Heherson “Sonny” Alvarez. Greenergized was written by Philippines-based technology author and technology consultant Dennis Posadas to explain climate and clean energy concepts in a business fable format for laypersons.

Photo courtesy of Bernie Felix, Philippine Climate Commission.

SPECIAL OFFER: 20% off Greenergized with discount code GREE20. Visit our website to order and enter the code at checkout.

Natural Corporate Management, a truly fresh perspective on individual and corporate behavior

NCM_covReview of  Natural Corporate Management: From the Big Bang to Wall Street by William C. Frederick

Rare are books that begin with the Big Bang and march sequentially through a litany of seemingly unrelated natural phenomena including energy, life itself, genetics, and the rise of Homo sapiens. Add to this Darwinian survival and market competition, and you have Natural Corporate Management, a truly fresh perspective on individual and corporate behavior.

The novelty of the examples and logic is indisputable. Each natural science phenomenon is presented as more than just an analogy. Frederick (emer., Univ. of Pittsburgh), author of numerous works including Corporation, Be Good! (CH, Jul’06, 43-6635), treats them directly or indirectly as the causes for modern business practices. He offers a natural-world evolutionary perspective of why organizations exist and how they function. Continue reading

John R. Ehrenfeld: “People do not even know what they mean by sustainability”

"The world, the ultimate source of goods, is finite. Eventually we will exhaust the resources necessary to support human life." - John R. Ehrenfeld

“The world, the ultimate source of goods, is finite. Eventually we will exhaust the resources necessary to support human life.” – John R. Ehrenfeld

A month ago, Andy Hoffman and I were throwing a book party to celebrate our combined efforts in writing Flourishing: A Frank Conversation about Sustainability. With a few hitches here and there, I can say I am flourishing in real life. Without being smug, I can say, that at any moment, I feel complete and satisfied that I am taking care of myself, others and the world.

But I can hardly say the same for the world out there. People do not even know what they mean by sustainability, as I judge not only in their words but, more importantly, in their actions. Sustainability always carries a sense of continuing to create or maintain something. Without specifically naming the something as I do in calling out flourishing as the goal, the cry for sustainability is a cry for maintaining the status quo. Two questions naturally then arise. What characteristics of today’s world? Who decides which ones?
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Cycling is sustainable and healthy so why aren’t more of us on our bikes?

An average working day in the Netherlands sees 5m people make 14m cycle journeys

An average working day in the Netherlands sees 5m people make 14m cycle journeys

Safety fears and lack of employer engagement are holding back a cycling revolution, writes Wayne Visser: In March 2013, London mayor Boris Johnson – already feted for his pay-as-you-go Boris bikes introduced in 2010 – announced plans for the longest bike route in any European city. This is part of a £1bn bid to double the number of Londoners who cycle over the next decade.

This is certainly welcome news for a city that hopes to reduce its carbon footprint by 60% by 2025. Currently, the average Londoner emits 9.6 tonnes of CO2 per year, which is lower than New York (10.5 tonnes), but almost three times Stockholm (3.6 tonnes), despite Sweden having a far colder climate. Cycling is one obvious way to make a dent on our carbon footprint in the west. But are we convinced?
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Comparing apples to oranges: Why the coal industry is still growing in Asia

Comparing apples to oranges: Accepting fossil fuel subsidies while criticising feed-in-tariffs is not fair.

“It is unfair to accept fossil fuel subsidies while criticising feed-in-tariffs.” – Dennis Posadas

Taking grand displays of climate-change action at face value, we seem to be heading towards a cleaner future. Earth Day and Earth Hour with their millions of participants may lead us to think that there is strong public support for climate change mitigation.

The reality is somewhat more grim. In terms of capacity, the growth of new coal plants has outpaced that of clean energy, especially in Asia.

This now means that the main cause of greenhouse gas emissions is still growing, despite what seems to be a growing public clamour for environmental protection. In light of news that the atmospheric carbon dioxide level has reached 400ppm for the first time in three million years, we need a rethink. Are our strategies working?
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