Climate Change is a very contentious issue which gets discussed by politicians, scientists, conspiracy theorists and activists, each for their own reasons, and each meaning something different when using the term. The science that demonstrates that the climate is changing is solid. However, it is difficult to prove how much of it can be attributed to human behaviour. As the data moves outward from the scientists, it is susceptible to being manipulated and corrupted to suit ulterior motives.
On the other hand, environmental sustainability refers directly to the effects of human actions on our environment. A human behaviour can either be recognised as a sustainable behaviour or a non-sustainable behaviour. With environmental sustainability, you can conduct impact studies and you can measure results directly. Unlike the scientific analysis of global climate change, where scientists have difficulty bringing the results of their studies to the layman’s level of understanding, environmental sustainability impact studies can be easily explained, verified and digested by the general public.
Focusing on Environmental Sustainability
Environmental sustainability is really about preserving the earth’s resources for future generations. The main dimensions of environmental sustainability are Environmental Management and Human Consumption. Environmental Management deals with managing the earth’s natural assets, such as freshwater systems and the oceans, the atmosphere, and the use of land, to name a few.
Also vital is the management of Human Consumption. A major driver of human impact on Earth systems is the destruction of biophysical resources, and, especially, the Earth’s ecosystems. This encomapsses the materials we used to produce energy, food, water, and toxic substances, amongst others.
The environmental impact of a community or of humankind as a whole depends both on population and impact per person, which in turn depends on what resources are being used, whether or not those resources are renewable, and the scale of the human activity relative to the carrying capacity of the ecosystems involved.
Environmental Sustainability and Meaningful Measurements
Think in terms of measurable results of actions. The results of an oil spill on the environment can be directly measured. You can measure the amount of oil that was spilled, how many tonnes of solvent needed to disperse it, how much coastline or land is affected, how much human capital needs to be involved in the clean up operation. There is very little to room to dispute these measurements and it is this lack of ambiguity which means these measurements can be taken as facts.
The beauty of being able to take measurements and produce meaningful analysis is that you can more accurately model and reproduce results. Furthermore, the measurements can be made in terms that are readily interpreted by the market. This means that these measurements can be be added into market models. Being able to directly input market readable data into a market model means that you gain the ability to determine the market forces that would need to be deployed in order to ‘mitigate’ against an event or action that impact the environment.
So, to tie this all back to environmental sustainability, in order for a human behaviour to be sustainable, an action that has a negative environmental impact must be mitigated (or offset) by an action that has an equally positive impact on the environment. Mitigation is the key to establishing environmental equilibrium, or rather an equilibrium between mankind and the environment.
Giving People the Choice and the Tools to Act Responsibly
Whether you believe in climate change or not, nobody can deny that we as a species have a direct impact on the world around us. At impactChoice, our contention is that, if you are going to be environmentally sustainable, you need to look at things more holistically and not just a few aspects as things are interrelated. Tackling the challenges of environmental sustainability is a lot more meaningful as it means the discussion can now be about measurable outcomes. As opposed to climate change discussions, the narrative can be freed from all the political and activist baggage and, instead, real practical solutions can be applied which are measurable year on year.
Measurements become more understood the resultant data can be used by the market. People designing new products and services will have a better idea of their environmental impact from the get-go. They can gain an edge over their competitors by displaying their environmental credentials. Shifting the focus toward environmental sustainability gives us the ability to develop tools and technology that can make a meaningful difference.
Instead of lecturing people about the damage being done to the environment, why not empower them with the right tools to be able to act? And not just on a global level, but right down to the individual level? This is exactly what we aim to achieve with the Natural Asset Exchange, powered by Earth Token.