Do I want to have animals and plants – or do I want to be around?

Stephen McLean

For centuries, humankind has realised that one species is better than another when it comes to what we can do to help our environment.

But now things are changing. The writing is on the wall. Our species is doomed. In light of the long-term trend of rising carbon emissions, it appears that if we don’t take drastic action we will destroy the planet with very little progress being made on climate change.

To quote, “Frankenstein”, mankind finds it difficult to live without chemical life. Even more so when it faces extinction. Current levels of carbon emissions mean that our world is on a par with “zero carbon” climates like Antarctica, where CO2 levels are less than 0.0011 per cent of current global levels.

It’s no surprise that many of us are embittered about these current low carbon metrics and even moreso, what we know about how those climate levels have affected the world’s animals and plants. For us the privilege of creating life cannot be taken for granted and if we don’t make a change now, our children and grandchildren will be impacted more severely than us.

What can I do?

If you are tired of feeling helpless, it might be wise to volunteer some of your time to help solve the problem. Whether you like travelling or not, volunteer time and money is valuable to the planet. You can look for opportunities in your city, county or state, so there is no need to go across the globe to another place. There are many possibilities, including training and certifications such as ICON’s Plant Your Future Program. You may also want to look into ICON’s Enviroproject’s Practitioner’s Fund, which provides funding to businesses to take action on reducing greenhouse gases and building a more sustainable future.

The problem facing people is not only the diminishing natural environment, but is also becoming very difficult for humans to live in both physically and in mind. If we want to have all these animals and plants, we will have to find a way to live better and at the same time save the planet.

Businesses are going to have to change. All businesses must do their part. Managing sustainability has become a priority for the entire world, and has even appeared as a key performance measure in recent years. People of all ages have started to demand more responsible working practices.

The best place to start your journey is by looking to what you already do. If you already pay attention to your products and your environment, you already have a good beginning. A report from Carbon Brief suggested that our 10 leading corporate activists, such as Sony, Apple, Tesco and 2K Interactive, have cut their CO2 emissions by 40-70% in the last decade.

Similarly, if you already think that your company is doing a great job, then celebrate the successes. Businesses have a lot of experience and know how to use what they have to improve their operations and indeed, change society in general. These 20 companies, based on their platforms alone, could remove 400m tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. This is the equivalent of the output of 40,000 cars. This will take all of them all of a few years to achieve, so every single one of your colleagues could do some good if they make it a priority.

We need to help businesses make change. What we need to make is the “Amendments to the Business Environment Framework for Sustainable Development 2015”, which would allow business to make pledges to make environmental policies and initiatives as they do their annual reports.

Your chief executives or company’s board could also encourage everyone to go green by telling them why they should. Make it personal. Everyone has a role and a responsibility.

Finally, if you don’t have a strong interest or connection to sustainability, it can be helpful to find a community that does and get to know them. They may have business ideas or environment minded friends and so they need your support. Start small and it will grow organically to where the community needs your help.

Stephen McLean is chief executive of ioca, a global sustainability technology company based in New Zealand. Based on its work on technology and innovation in resource use, ioca has developed environmental management systems, data sets and applications specifically for the oil and gas industry. For more information visit or follow the company on Twitter: @icitycglobal

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