Thursday, October 30, 2008

More not good news

A bit over three years ago, I published Not good news; what do we do about it?, a story prompted by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

Today, Grist News published Planet Ahead, a pointer to the World Wildlife Fund's 2008 Living Planet Report. In short, we're continuing to live beyond our (or the planet's) means, and, at current trends (not consumption levels, as reported in Grist according to my interpretation), we'll need two planet's worth of resources by the mid 2030s.

While they don't reveal the details of their model, it seems by their admission (p. 22) that it does not incorporate feedback effects. Thus it may miss behaviors that could prove dominant and perhaps more damaging over time.

One challenge is that the degradation is largely invisible to many of us. For one, many of the factors they measure are not bought or sold, so normal market forces don't make them visible nor work to manage their use. For another, the degradation is largely confined to tropical regions, yet I suspect most of us reading this live in temperate regions and don't really observe those changes.

Yet, amidst that gloomy projection, there is cause for optimism. They speak of "sustainability wedges" as an approach to help us have our cake and eat it, too, or at least to grow energy services and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The report is 48 pages long, so I've just skimmed it. I think it's well worth the time at least to skim it to become better informed on the current state of the world and current trends.

What does that mean for us in business? What does that mean for us as citizens? What are your thoughts?

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