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Monday, October 13, 2014

Strategic CSR - The future

The article in the url below is a review of three books on climate change that struggle (to different conclusions) with the effects of this planet-wide phenomenon on our future prospects. The first book, for example, demonstrates the amazing capacity of life to adapt to wildly changing circumstances:
"Cliff swallows in the Great Plains are evolving to have shorter wings. This helps them to swerve more easily away from speeding cars on the interstate. … Stockholm's Central Station uses the body heat of railway travelers to warm a nearby office building. … A new water bottle, inspired by the anatomy of a beetle in the Namibian desert, condenses air moisture and refills itself."
The result of this perspective is it allows the author to conclude that we will be able to adapt to our changing environment, however bad things get:
"… there is nothing 'natural' about Earth in 2014. For more than three millenniums, human civilization has reorganized nature to suit its tastes. … It is telling that Ms. Ackerman's central image, of a young orangutan at the Toronto Zoo playing on an iPad, is seen as cute, rather than a perversion of nature. She describes the rapid rise in global temperatures as merely a 'low-grade fever' that 'won't be tragic everywhere and for every species.'"
In contrast to the first book's optimistic view about the future based on scientific innovation, the second book paints a different picture:
"It is also possible that by the end of the century, the populations of Africa and Australia will be wiped out, New York and most other coastal cities will be accessible only to scuba divers, 70 percent of all species will go extinct, a second Black Death will kill off half of Europe, 1.5 billion people will be displaced around the world, and, as soon as 2050, the United States government will declare martial law to prevent food riots. … Why has our civilization been unable to take the most basic steps to prevent a future that could include mass starvation, displacement and pestilence?"
This question is answered by the third book:
"'We have not done the things that are necessary to lower emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology for the entire period we have been struggling to find a way out of this crisis.' Or, more succinctly: 'Our economic system and our planetary system are at war.' Something's got to give, and nature, as we've learned, is not in a giving mood."
The possible consequences of continued inaction?
"By 2023, [the author of the third book] writes, we'll be lucky to restrict the ultimate rise in global temperatures to an average of four degrees Celsius, or seven Fahrenheit. Four degrees' warming, as it turns out, is the premise for the nightmarish future described by [the second book]."
Take care
David Chandler & Bill Werther
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Three Divergent Visions of Our Future Under Climate Change
By Nathaniel Rich
September 23, 2014
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final