Brace yourself for some depressing climate change news. Even if we cut carbon emissions dramatically, we won't really see the impact by the year 2050, says Bjørn Lomborg, Director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center. So if the outlook is so bleak, what should we do in the meantime? Where should we direct our energies? Lomborg has some ideas.
We need to face up to the fact that global warming isn't going anywhere, says Lomborg, and focus on adapting. Fundamentally, that entails better planning. "Look at hurricanes; if a hurricane hits Florida, it costs a lot of money, but still only a couple of percent in terms of GDP of Florida, and it kills very few people. If it hits Honduras, it will cost easily, one-third, two-thirds of Honduras’s GDP and it will eradicate tens of thousands of people." We need better infrastructure that will allow us to withstand disasters like hurricanes and floods, says Lomborg. That will help us prepare for other future problems that are coming are way, in addition to the already imminent global warming.
Big Think also sat down with Harvard Business School professor Robert Eccles to talk about his ideas for making the planet more sustainable. He spoke about an initiative called Living PlanIT, a company that is busy creating the city of the future. The current name for this city is Planet Valley, and a key part of their radical approach is a new way of looking at building and construction.
Eccles also responded to a couple of the sustainability interviews Big Think has featured in the past few weeks. When it came to Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck's comments on how to reposition Copenhagen, Eccles says: "He made a compelling argument for why simply jumping to bio-fuels was not a logical conclusion because he discussed the difference between oil and bio-fuels in terms of the amount of water that needs to be used and for bio-fuels, the plant matter that could be food and used in another way."
Eccles also commented on a video clip about China featuring Gro Harlem Brundtland, U.N. Special Envoy on Climate Change. He thinks we'll see China surge ahead when it comes to sustainability. "These large Chinese companies have the assets, have the ambition. They don’t want to just be big companies in China, they want to be global players and they understand that to be global players, they’re going to have to play by global rules and they’re going to have to establish themselves as legitimate in the global community, perhaps different standards in the US, certainly in Europe, around environment, around social, around labor. They’re smart, they get it, they’re adaptable, and I think you’ll see tremendous change in China."
These interviews are part of a series on business sustainability, "Balancing People, Planet and Profit: The Future of Business Sustainability," sponsored by Logica. So far, the series has featured interviews with Peter Brabeck, the Chairman of Nestle; Gro Harlem Brundtland, Special Envoy on Climate Change, U.N.; Ernst Weizsäcker, Co-chair, U.N. International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management; Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP Group; and Fatih Birol, Chief Economist at IEA. The series examines ways that business interests can be better aligned with the greater social good.