How to deal with potentially catastrophic, environmental change?

<p>For years, like many others, I have been raising awareness of the fundamental fact that we all depend on a healthy, resilient ecosystem - often to be told that in the &lsquo;real&rsquo; world of money, business and politics the ecosystem doesn&rsquo;t count.<br /> <br /> That&rsquo;s now changed. In Scotland and across the globe it&rsquo;s recognised that significant action by international institutions, governments, businesses, communities and individuals is essential. But for all the bullish pronouncements of opportunities, overcoming challenges, and reaching targets, many people I speak to doubt whether action is happening fast enough to prevent irreversible changes.<br /> #break# <br /> <strong>Coming out about climate change</strong></p>
<p>So far, so trite. Where does this leave you and I? Practically - what should we do? Emotionally - how do we deal with this possibility? And what are the implications of &lsquo;coming out&rsquo; - being honest that perhaps our forebears and our society have put the world on a track towards unknowable, potentially catastrophic, environmental change? Will being honest about our doubts undermine the growing acceptance that change is not only necessary but possible - for if it&rsquo;s not possible, is it worth the effort?<br /> <br /> I can only speak for myself. Lies, even in a good cause, have a way of backfiring - never mind the pain of living with lies. So I must be honest about my doubt, but this is doubt not conviction. Overall, I have hope: I do believe there is potential for real, positive change in the world - but I&rsquo;m not so blinded to believe success inevitable.<br /> <br /> <strong>It&rsquo;s not just climate change</strong></p>
<p>Public awareness and political action is focussed primarily on climate change. But even without climate change, the planet is so stressed that our life support systems are under threat. And while achieving CO2 reduction targets would reduce environmental stress, CO2 reduction alone will not be enough.<br /> <br /> Significant changes to the way we live and organise our economies are essential to restore the health of the planet. Achieving reductions in CO2 will be difficult - and who knows where we are headed if we don&rsquo;t succeed.<br /> <br /> <strong>Going beyond boosterism</strong></p>
<p>We need to deal with each and every one of our planet-stressing activities, not just CO2 emissions. We must go beyond technical solutions and boosterism talk which boils down to &lsquo;business as usual with less carbon&rsquo;.<br /> <br /> We must find and apply ways of working and living that enhance social and environmental resilience - aiming to create a world worth living in.<br /> <br /> Such action will simultaneously reduce CO2 emissions, reduce other environmental stresses, and strengthen human wellbeing. We can work to prevent climate change, and should we not succeed, we will already be preparing to live with that failure.<br /> <br /> <strong>Laying down my fears</strong></p>
<p>Preventing even just climate change was never going to be enough. Feeling comfortable saying all this gives me the strength to lay down my fears. The questions I asked above now seem irrelevant. They may well come back to haunt me, but for now there&rsquo;s work I need to do.<br /> <br /> Here&rsquo;s my to do list:</p>
<ul>
<li>Up my game - have the confidence to aim even higher.</li>
<li>Build on my skills and expertise - sustainable business, ethical enterprise; public procurement; supporting agents of change - to have maximum impact, direct and indirect.</li>
<li>Explore new ways of working with people in my real and virtual networks to scale up our work for maximum effect.</li>
</ul>
<p><strong>What&rsquo;s on your list?</strong></p>
<p>Share your thoughts - leave comments!</p>
<p><em>Osbert Lancaster is a director of <a href="http://www.footprintconsulting.org/">Footprint Consulting Ltd</a> - working with organisations to make the world a better place.</em></p>