According to the World Meteorological Association, 2017 was one of the three warmest years since reliable weather records began more than 100 years ago.
Before you dismiss this as an anomaly, consider that 2015 and 2016 were also among the three warmest years on record. In other words, the planet’s three hottest calendar years in modern recorded history occurred during the past three years.
At this point, anyone who tells you the planet isn’t warming, or minimizes humanity’s role in climate change, isn’t being straight with you. That question is settled.
The next question — what are individuals and businesses to do about the clear and present danger to the planet’s health — remains very much open.
As a business owner, you’re better positioned than most to make a real, positive impact. Once you’ve calculated your business’s carbon footprint, take these common sense measures to reduce it one pound at a time.
- Schedule Fewer Business Trips
Air travel burns an embarrassing amount of carbon. The single most important thing most service industry businesses can do to reduce their environmental impacts is simply to stop scheduling business trips.
This isn’t always practical, of course. But you can almost certainly identify non-essential business trips to shorten, tie in with other trips, or replace with remote meetings or teleconferences.
- Take Less Extravagant Retreats
All work and no play makes for a dull workplace. Employee retreats are great team- and morale-building exercises, as long as their environmental impact is measured. So why not trade the golf resort for a rustic lakeside retreat or rough-and-tumble camping trip?
“We see lots of corporate groups and teams here on Hecla Island,” says David Janeson, an entrepreneur who operates a small resort in rural Manitoba. “Many skip the full-service resort and camp out near the beach or visit our property.”
After all, simple doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.
- Purchase Carbon Offsets
For business trips you can’t cancel or consolidate, purchase carbon offsets. Your travel vendor may facilitate this with relatively little red tape, though you’ll want to be sure you’re purchasing a legitimate product — in other words, an offset regime that actually has an ameliorative effect on the environment.
“Some airline websites offer the option to buy [carbon offsets] from third-party sellers to counterbalance the considerable carbon pollution associated with flying,” writes Brian Palmer, newswriter for the National Resources Defense Council.
- Invest in More Efficient Vehicles, Equipment and Property
Do whatever you can do make your fleet, equipment, and real estate more efficient. That might mean installing passive heating and cooling systems on your production floor, replacing gas-guzzling vans with hybrid-electric versions, or purchasing electric or battery-operated versions of diesel- or gas-powered machinery.
History Will Be the Judge
Can you feel that? It’s the eyes of history on you, watching your every move.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but future generations will judge those currently living by the actions — or inactions — they took to address the climate crisis. The conditions from which they take our measure will depend largely on what we do today, tomorrow, and next year.