New Environmental Enterprise projects
When our Government Plans for the next 20 years they assume that the only way to respond to rising populations will be to create more economic growth with more jobs, cars, houses etc and a return to the pre-banking crisis `business as usual`. (1)
However 3 key trends are making major and far reaching social change inevitable (2).
1) The end of cheap oil. Whilst oil prices in the UK have fluctuated they have continuously accelerated with greater speed over decades (3). Greater demands upon dwindling supplies will generate higher price rises as world population rises and 3rd world country`s develop. Our lifestyles are totally dependent upon cheap oil. The International Energy Agency tells world leaders “ we should leave oil before it leaves us“ (4).
2) The impact of Climate Change & Pollution. There is unprecedented scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels has led to increasing speed and scale of climate change. This in turn has and will generate famines, mass migrations and military and civil conflict over resources (5). We are directly impacted by these global events.
“I don’t think you need me to tell you that Climate change will cause alterations to patterns of bacterial, toxic and vector-born disease. Through extreme weather events, it is already causing ecosystem collapse, loss of habitation, poverty, starvation, migration and conflict. “ HRH the Prince of Wales (5)
“The next 20 years present immense challenges for Torbay to strategically manage its environment, land use and infrastructure whilst responding to the biggest threats we face: climate change and peak oil/resource depletion. Dr. Sam Moss (6)
In addition to the petrol oil and diesel pump price rises there is atmospheric pollution price with major health problems and premature deaths (7).
3) The end of a century of economic growth bubble.
Most of the G14 economies are deeply in debt post banking crisis and will struggle to finance basic public services or pensions. In the UK we continue to see a programme of deep public sector spending reductions with greater impact over next decades. Major economies are slowing down and the world`s oil based economy is becoming increasingly fractious and fragile.
What is to be done?
We do have the opportunity to move away from an oil dependent economy; mitigating climate change and generating `different ` jobs. This would restore the local balance and promote a more resilient local economy. But why has the `addiction to oil` and big business not changed in light of evidence of impacts and risks for us and future generations?
Climate Change –why do we fail to act as individuals?
There is a major public educational challenge. Professor Robert Gifford (8) shows the big gap between public concerns and individual actions to address it. There are structural barriers but for millions more pro-climate choices are feasible. The psychological barriers including:
a) Limited Cognition –Humans are far less rational than once believed
-Attention is not paid to gradual or distant impacts such as climate change.
-Ignorance of facts about climate change; what to do or wrong information.
-Uncertainty as scientist underplay the impact using phases as “likely“.
-Lack of control as people think their behavior has little or no impact.
b) Ideologies-There are 4 belief systems that inhibit climate positive behaviors
-World views unfretted support for exploitation of resources.
-Superhuman powers people believe a religious or secular deity controls events.
-Techno-salvation people take no action as technology will solve the problem.
-System justification comfortable people tend to defend the status quo.
c) Social Comparisons –As social animals we comparing our own situation to others
–Social comparison when we admire people we gravitate towards their choices.
–Social norms and networks create and enforce positive or negative climate norms.
–Perceived inequality between individuals or nations cooperation tends to decline.
d) Sunk Costs –We like to buy things that make our lives more comfortable and predictable .Some purchases can be climate positive, but many are not.
-Financial Investment once people have a car disinvesting becomes difficult.
–Habit repeated actions are resistant to permanent change e.g. diet and transport.
-Conflicting goals ,values and aspirations people rate climate change as important but ranked low against other issues and `as long as doesn`t come out of their pocket`.
e) Discordance -Unlikely to believe what `they `say or take direction from them.
-Mistrust people distrust messages that come from scientists or government officials.
-Perceived inadequacy people decide that encouraging sustainable or climate friendly behavior isn`t good enough for their participation.
-Denial for people uncertainty, mistrust and sunk costs is a powerful cocktail.
f) Perceived risk as changing one`s behavior is risky so people opt for inaction.
-Functional risk as people will ask if the green technology works.
-Physical risk as say bicycles are seen as more risky than cars.
-Financial risk as people reluctant on capital outlay, premiums or payback
-Psychological risk as people wonder` will I be teased, criticized or bullied`.
-Temporal risk as people fear result in benefits and time will be wasted.
- g) Limited Behavior-Most people will engage with but can do more.
-Tokenism as people tend to lowest cost action but not higher cost actions
–The rebound effect as people may tend to buy a fuel efficient car but drive further.
What can be done?
At Cara Community Services we believe a range of proactive responses are required using business methods to address these environmental concerns. That is why we are pioneering new and exciting models of eco-enterprise which encompass both the build and natural environment as a way of re-educating people to engage and take responsibility for the environment.
If you or your group have a project you wish to develop or require further information please contact John Brennan on 01803852270 or email; firstname.lastname@example.org for a free and confidential discussion .
(1) George Osborne`s and David Cameron speeches to Party Conference 6th & 7th Oct 2015 set national economic strategy for next 5 years.
(2) Rubin, J (2009). ` Why your World is about to get a lot smaller. What the Price of oil means for the way we live. ` Virgin Books.
(3) Seeley, T (2008) US Regulator `Closely Monitoring Nymex Oil Prices . Bloomberg .com (Note : Whilst currently at circa $50 per barrel in August 2015 (and circa 110 pence per litre at the pumps) it reached a record $147.27 a barrel on July 11, 2008. Increasing oil prices and diminishing resources remain a major threat to UK economy).
(4) Birol, F (2008).` We can`t cling to crude oil: We should leave oil before it leaves us. ` www.independent .co.uk/news/business/comment 2nd March.
(5) A speech by HRH Prince of Wales at a meeting about “Putting Health at the Centre of the Climate Change debate: The role of the Health community in the run up to COP21″, The Royal Society, London (Published on 25th February 2015).
(6) Dr. Sam Moss -“ The Local Plan 2012-2034 www.torbay.gov.uk/newlocalplan“ Page 49.
(8) P28 `New Scientist` 11th July 2015