One of the key trends that my team and I track is the environment. There is no doubt that changes in our physical world, and our responses to them, are huge causes of disruptive change right now. When I do presentations on the TIDES of change (an acronym we use to talk of the five most disruptive forces of change), I am always a little nervous when I get to the “E” for environment. Especially in America, there is a danger that my audience will discount and dismiss everything else I say if I come out with a position on global warming and climate change that they don’t agree with.
It is a very divisive issue right now. So, I have found a way to hedge my bets a bit – especially in America – giving some credence to the position of the deniers and skeptics, allowing them the possibility that not all of the facts are in, but pointing out to them that governments are forcing through legislation and taxes anyway. So, I say, “I doesn’t really matter what you or I believe, this is an issue we are all facing.”
But I am going to stop this now. The facts ARE in, and the science IS conclusive.
The world is getting warmer, climates are changing, and this is having an impact on all of us. Globally, the ten hottest years on average on record have all been in the past fifteen years. In many countries, including the USA, 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded (previous highs for many countries were in 1998 or 1999). Australia’s climate scientists were forced last week to add an additional colour to the heat map, as they expected a high temperature of 52°C (surpassing the previous high of 50.7°C set in 1960), and a new high for national average maximum (40.3°C) and national average (32.2°C) temperatures.
Other national records around the world are being broken too as extremes of weather become more common. Last year, for example was the second most extreme, as measured by an NOAA index of weather extremes that includes temperature, precipitation, hurricanes and the like. Only 1998 was more variable. See The Economist’s map of extremes here.
The NY Times reported recently on a draft report by the US government‘s own advisory committee on the environment, which uses the most unequivocal language yet on the state of the climate. The report specifically cites scientific evidence that human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels, are the primary cause of these changes. According to the NY Time, “it warns that if humanity fails to get a handle on emissions, the changes are likely to accelerate. And it cites numerous ways, from health problems to wildfires to extreme weather events, that climate change threatens human welfare – not in some distant land in some far-off time, but here in the United States, and soon.”
As the heat increases, and weather worsens, US corporate media coverage of global warming decreases, according to an analysis for Common Dreams. I am guessing they’re referring to right-wing, conservative media, because in his Inauguration speech on Monday, President Obama laid down a marker. Although he didn’t quite say that climate change is manmade, he certainly said everything else that could have been hoped for, and positioned his administration clearly against climate change deniers.
The simple point for me is this: with each passing year, it is becoming increasingly clear that the deniers are wrong, and the scientists who predict the effects of global warming are not just right, but also understating the seriousness of the situation (that’s good: scientists should never succumb to hyperbole or overstatement).
Global warming deniers need to face the facts, as we all face the heat.
Now let’s start having the REAL conversations: what are we going to do about it? And what are the opportunities for your business and your industry?