With climate change and resource scarcity reaching tipping point and the global economy flat-lining, Simon Leadbetter asks, where have all the ‘leaders’ gone?
In times of great crisis, great leaders emerge to help us, the ‘followers’, reach a brighter and better tomorrow; from overthrowing fascism in the 1940s to facing down a nuclear threat from the 1950s to the 1980s.
Today our environment, society and economy may be in deep trouble but we appear to be adrift and leaderless.
One thing that strikes you about the heads of government from the richest nations is their apparent paralysis with the current crises. As democratic government gives way to technocratic management in Italy and Greece and the International Energy Agency (IEA) declares that we are heading for irreversible climate change, it is becoming apparent that our leaders are, well, leaderless.
Our politicians have been discredited by regularly breaking election promises and allowing corporate interests to take priority over those of the people and then fiddling their generous allowances (albeit this was a rotten minority).
Our largest media group has been caught hacking phones, bullying politicians and digging through dustbins to find dirt on their victims. At the same time, they’ve distorted our national debate about serious issues into an uninformed free-for-all, where anyone can espouse ill-informed prejudice.
Our banks have crashed the global economy and then nationalised their losses while still paying massive bonuses for failure. Has any bank leader been prosecuted for the trillions of dollar damage to the global economy? Does anyone think we’ve got a fair deal on Northern Rock?
Most recently, our religious leaders have joined the debate declaring that ‘something must be done’ to link finance with ethics; it could be argued that this is too little, too late from those who describe themselves as our ‘moral’ leaders.
A healthy scepticism about leadership has given way to cynicism and pessimism, “They’re all useless. I can’t make a difference, so why should I bother?”
But something can be done. Something is being done.
As Glenn Close says in Yann Arthus-Bertrand‘s amazing and beautiful film, The Home Project, “it’s too late to be a pessimist“.
Consider these facts from the end of the film (watch from 1:18 if you don’t have 90 spare minutes – although it’s well worth 90 minutes!)
- Over four out of five of the world’s children have been through primary education – the highest number ever (UNESCO). An educated population is one of the sure ways out of poverty and into self-made prosperity
- Lesotho, one of the world’s poorest countries (ranked 154-164th by GDP depending on the source), invests the third highest shares of its GDP on education, 10.4% compared to the UK’s 5.3%. They have chosen blackboards over bullets (UNHDP)
- A Bangladeshi created a bank for the poor in his country and has helped 7.34 million people, 97% women, out of poverty (Grameen Bank)
- Governments have acted to protect 6.3% of the world’s territorial waters, that 6.3% more than 10 years ago (World Database on Protected Areas)
- Protected areas cover 13% of the world’s land (WDPA)
- Costa Rica has abandoned having armed forces, choosing sustainable development over military spending (CIA)
While over 80% of the fuel we use may come from fossil fuels (US EIA), literally thousands of companies around the world are spending billions on developing cleaner technology and cleaner energy sources.
From carbon capture to limit the damage of fossil fuels to incubating and building natural energy sources, such as hydro, tidal, wave, wind, geothermal, and solar. Just one hundredth of 1% of the sun’s energy that is absorbed by the earth in one hour could power our global economy for one year. We just need to capture it.
It’s too late for pessimism
You can make a difference by thinking for a few moments about what you buy as you reach for that shiny new gadget for Christmas, who you invest in and understanding climate change.
Capitalism and democracy may have given the UK its position as the world’s sixth largest economy, but globally we now have weak leadership, a weak economy and a planet under threat. Capitalism and democracy may be the prevailing systems but we can make them work for us – using our triple stake as voters, shareholders and consumers. Some in the developing world would argue we have the sixth largest responsibility to clear up our mess.
It’s easy to be informed, get engaged and make a difference.
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The world needs ethical, environmental and entrepreneurial leadership.
It’s too late to wait for someone else to lead us.
In the consumer and digital age, we are all leaders now.
Blue & Green Tomorrow provides clear and impartial information on how to invest and live more sustainably; in a way that balances the needs of the planet, its people and future prosperity. There is no plan(et) B.
We advocate four ways of making a difference: invest, shop, travel sustainable and use clean energy.
If you’re unsure on how to invest, one of our specialist advisers will guide you.
If you need some ideas on what to buy this Christmas without costing the earth, visit the Ethical Superstore, who have a smorgasbord of ethical, fair trade and organic ideas.
If you’re unsure how to travel sustainably, one of AITO’s 5-star rated sustainable tour operators can help you.
And if you want to support Britain’s place as a leader in renewable energy why not switch to Good Energy.
Be a sustainable leader.
How Going Green Can Save A Company Money
What is going green?
Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.
The first step in going green
There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.
Making needed changes within the company
After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.
Reducing the common paper waste
Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.
Make money by spreading the word
Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.
5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable
Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.
1. Weather stripping
If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.
Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.
Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.
2. Programmable thermostats
Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.
Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!
3. Low-flow water hardware
With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.
Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.
Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.
4. Energy efficient light bulbs
An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.
New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.
5. Installing solar panels
Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.
Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.
From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!
These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.
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