The CSR Newsletters are a freely-available resource generated as a dynamic complement to the textbook, Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation.

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Strategic CSR - The climate debate

The article in the url below contains some straightforward answers to some of the essential questions around climate change. These answers leave open the possibility we can turn things around, but the door is not open very wide and it seems as though it will not be open for much longer. Here are some selections:
How much is the planet heating up?
"If emissions continue unchecked, they say the global warming could ultimately exceed 8 degrees Fahrenheit, which would transform the planet and undermine its capacity to support a large human population."
How much trouble are we in?
"The risks are much greater over the long run than over the next few decades, but the emissions that create those risks are happening now. … Scientists fear climate effects so severe that they might destabilize governments, produce waves of refugees, precipitate the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals in Earth's history, and melt the polar ice caps, causing the seas to rise high enough to flood most of the world's coastal cities. … Bolder efforts to limit emissions would reduce these risks, or at least slow the effects, but it is already too late to eliminate the risks entirely."
Is there anything I can do?
"… experts do not believe the needed transformation in the energy system can happen without strong state and national policies. So speaking up and exercising your rights as a citizen matters as much as anything else you can do."
What's the optimistic scenario?
"Earth turns out to be less sensitive to greenhouse gases than currently believed; plants and animals manage to adapt to the changes that have already become inevitable; human society develops much greater political will to bring emissions under control; and major technological breakthroughs occur that help society both to limit emissions and to adjust to climate change. … Scientists say the odds of all these things breaking our way are not very high."
What's the worst-case scenario?
"Perhaps the greatest fear is a collapse of food production, accompanied by escalating prices and mass starvation. … Another possibility would be a disintegration of the polar ice sheets, leading to fast-rising seas that would force people to abandon many of the world's great cities and would lead to the loss of trillions of dollars worth of property and other assets."
Will a breakthrough technology help us?
"… current efforts are not enough. For instance, spending on basic energy research is only a quarter to a third of the level that several in-depth reports have recommended. And public spending on agricultural research has stagnated even though climate change poses growing risks to the food supply."

There are more answers (to questions such as "Are the predictions reliable?", "Will anyone benefit from climate change?", and "Is there any hope?") in the online version of the article (url below).
Have a good weekend
David Chandler & Bill Werther
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Short Answers to Hard Climate Questions
By Justin Gillis
December 1, 2015
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final