For those of us old enough to remember the amazing and thought provoking Baz Luhrmann song of the late 1990’s ‘Everybody’s free to wear Sunscreen’ you will be amazed to know that it is twenty years since this early viral internet phenonium grabbed our attention.
You will also no doubt recall those thought provoking and immortal words of the writer Mary Schmich, the original author of the words that were wrongly attributed to Kurt Vonnegut. For those of you too young to remember the song I recommend you hunt it down and listen.
It was whilst listening to a recent BBC World Service programme of the history of the song it occurred to me, as somebody who has spent the past 30 plus years in the sustainability world, what advice would I most like to pass on to the younger generation about the climate change challenge and living sustainably. So in honour of Mary, Baz and the amazing voice Lee Perry, here goes my reinterpretation of their lessons in life….
Ladies and gentlemen, Readers of EVORA Global.
Act on Climate Change
If I could offer you only one tip for the future,
Acting on climate change would be it.
The long term impacts of climate change have been shown by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.
I will offer my advice on how to address this challenge now.
Take seriously the power and passion of youth.
Dismiss this at your peril.
You may not understand the power and passion of youth until you have children and grandchildren of your own.
But trust me, in 20 years from now you’ll back at this time in a way you can’t grasp now and wonder why you didn’t act when there were still possibilities to change our trajectory and how many opportunities acting now could open up before you.
The future is not as hopeless or as difficult as you imagine.
Don’t worry about the science, but know that worrying is not effective or going to change the outcome.
The real challenges in modern life are our relentless consumptive behaviour in pursuit of false happiness but know that it’s not about having what you want but wanting what you have; the simple things in life such as spending time with family and friends is free.
Do something every day that challenges the perceived wisdom.
Publish your commitment to act on climate change.
Don’t be reckless with our resources and don’t be reckless with other counties resources.
Don’t accept the suggestion the world has endless capacity.
Don’t waste; do more with less. The world has evolved over billions of years and everything in the universe is recycled. Time is endless and our future uncertain but our place in history is not guaranteed.
Remember your successes and learn from any mistakes but don’t let them restrict you; the journey in tackling climate change is challenging and we are all in it together.
Display any awards for best practice; it will keep you motivated. Don’t throw away your utility bills; it’s valuable data that can help you improve management of your assets.
Don’t feel guilty; you don’t know how yet. Embrace the possibilities and engage with technology. Some of the best businesses I’ve known didn’t know how to innovate at the start of their sustainability journey; some of them have been able to secure Government grant funding to help them.
Embrace the power of the Sun.
Preserve the rainforest, biodiversity and ecosystem services you’ll miss then when they are gone.
Maybe you’ll strive to solve the challenge on your own.
Maybe you’ll partner with others to work together.
Maybe you’ll offset your carbon.
Maybe you’ll just go veggie and reduce meat consumption.
Whatever you do don’t congratulate yourself too much or be defeatist; the future of humankind is in our hands today. So is the rest of life on Earth.
Get plenty of exercise; walk cycle run; don’t over eat or poison your body with unhealthy substances, it’s the only one you’ll own.
Pause…..take time to look around you and marvel at the wonders of life.
Read and keep abreast of climate science; it’s moving fast.
BEWARE of the fashion industry; it contributes more to global warming than aviation and shipping combined.
Celebrate and respect your culture and heritage; we can learn lots about good lives from our ancestors that can guide our future.
Work together with your peer group; they understand your challenges and together you can find mutual respect and encouragement in the future.
Spend time with family and friends; enjoy preparing and eating local seasonal food together; avoid cheap fast foods.
Work to bridge the gaps in geography; although the challenges can differ slightly between countries the essential issues are the same. Think global, act local.
Only travel sustainably.
Accept certain inalienable truths; carbon taxes will come.
Politicians will eventually legislate.
You too will get older, and when you do you’ll fantasize that taxes were reasonable, politicians were noble, and will recall it was our children that made us aware of the threats of climate change to life on earth.
Respect Mother Nature.
Maybe you need financial support, maybe you can reinvest some profits, but be under no illusion, time is running out.
Don’t rush ahead without considering proper science based targets or by the time we hit 2050, you’ll realise you’ve been chasing the wrong goals.
Be careful with those who sell existing stuff carefully repackaged with a green claim. Get proof of their credentials with an appropriate assurance or verification certificate. Engage a good independent consultant to help you.
But trust me on the seriousness of climate change.
by Matthew Brundle, Associate Director