A Business Plan for Sustainable Living Part 4




GOWER        2011

The Green Economics and Sustainable Growth Series



Chapter 1: Understanding our Current Situation

Understanding the issues

It is important before we begin looking at plans and solutions that we have a good grasp on the major challenges faced by the human race:

Population growth: Clearly, Planet Earth cannot support an unlimited number of people simply because its resources are limited. Yet the population growth over the last 60 years has been unprecedented. From 2.5 billion to over 6.8 billion and currently continuing to grow at an estimated 80 million people a year. Half of the existing population is under 24 years old – with significant fertility potential. There are increasing concerns that Planet Earth is already dangerously close to the human population limits and its resources are already being overtaxed.

Climate change: The growth of human civilisation has taken place over the last 10,000 years in a period of relative climatic stability since the end of the last ice age. This stability has allowed the increase in food production, which has in turn allowed the rapid development of technologies. However, the stability of the climate is now changing due to human activity.

Sustainable energy supplies: The sustainability of the energy sources that power human civilisation over the last 200 years are under threat. A major source of energy, particularly for food production and transportation, is oil. Yet the supplies of easily accessible oil are finite and cost-effective supplies may have already reached their peak production. The challenge of energy is therefore to develop alternative supplies which are not only in sustainable supply, but which won’t further contribute to Climate Change within the limited timeframes available.

Water and food supplies: Population growth means more people placing demands on limited food and water supplies. There are already over 800 million people who do not have enough food to eat everyday, and over 1 billion with no access to clean drinking water. Coupled with this, the human race is obtaining a significant amount of its water supplies from non-renewable underground aquifers that have built up over thousands of years. Increased food production requires increased water supplies yet these are declining. Clearly, this situation is not sustainable.

A sustainable planet: Not only is the human race using up water and food supplies but other resources such as forests, lakes and fisheries are in dangerous decline. It takes a long time for these resources to replenish and some, such as wildlife and biodiversity resources, are irreplaceable. Some of the tropical rainforests in Asia and South America took over 300-400 million years to develop.

Extreme poverty: The increasing global population and the impact of energy shortages and Climate Change on food production means that there is an increased risk that even more people will not have enough to eat and will remain in extreme poverty. With over 800 million currently living on less than $1 a day, and therefore not having enough to eat every day, this could have catastrophic consequences.

Global health: Lack of adequate health facilities in developing countries has a number of consequences as well as the obvious ones of increased disease and death from common illnesses. In many of these countries, lack of healthcare results in people having more children to guarantee enough will survive to look after food production and to look after them if they are ill. It makes perfect sense in this context but clearly exacerbates the population growth problem and helps maintain the poverty cycle.

Universal education: A key issue that must be addressed when considering population, extreme poverty and health is access to education. Lack of basic education usually commits people to larger family size, poverty and reduced health. Therefore, access to basic education is the cornerstone of any actions to manage Global Challenges.

Managing conflict and peace: Peace, as already highlighted, is a key pillar in the development of a sustainable world. Conflict always dominates public concern and media interest and all too often valuable resources. For example, the 2007 G8 Summit, with its agenda of tackling Climate Change, AIDS and pollution, was overshadowed by the escalation that was taking place between the US and Russia regarding the US plans to put ‘deterrent missile bases’ in Eastern Europe. Urgent global agendas such as Climate Change are often sidelined by conflict and war.

Financing a sustainable world: In tackling any of these issues discussed so far there will be a financial cost – the price we will need to pay for building a sustainable planet. Identifying and sourcing funding for sustainability is therefore essential as is the professional management of cost effectiveness.


Executive Briefs

One of the challenges in understanding our global situation is getting a good handle on each of the challenges as they are so diverse. For this reason, each of these Global Challenges is presented as an Executive Brief so the reader can quickly capture the issues and the opportunities. For readers familiar with an issue, a brief summary is presented at the beginning of each section. For readers who would like a greater understanding of particular challenges and potential solutions, the rest of the section provides a summary of the key aspects of each of these challenges.

The structure for each brief is:

v  Summary

v  The current situation

v  Opportunities and best practices in tackling the challenge

v  The role of government, Business and People in tackling each challenge.

Chapter 2: Executive Brief No. 1: Population Growth

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