Tag: climate

From conservation to conversation

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On conservation…

A recent story in the Cambridge papers got us interested. An ancient college was keen to put solar panels on its roof. Seems a good idea? A nice example of leadership by one of the most privileged institutions in the UK? English Heritage said no…in the name of ‘conservation’. The College replied they were focused on conservation –but of a form well beyond preserving local vistas. So we have a battle between fossilised buildings vs fossil fuels – involving two organisations who are keen to be modern, relevant and non-archaic.

In our work linked to CSR, we note there are different tools for different purposes. Which you favour relate to personal priorities which are frequently framed in opposition in this field: buildings or bio-diversity, people or the planet…

How we talk about the purposes that seem important to us is at the heart of our interest in noble purpose organisations. Transvestite potter Grayson Perry has a famous piece of art (embroidery actually) encouraging us all to ‘hold our beliefs lightly’. This might be especially useful in noble purpose environments – especially when conversations about conservation are involved!

[Post script: However, logically we think this postmodern mantra should probably extend to holding the importance of lightly held beliefs lightly too. So maybe, from this philosophical point of view, fundamentalism is ok after all?]

All very circular eh…

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The CSR buckets – using your head, heart and hands

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Broadly, there are 3 corporate social responsibilty ‘buckets’ that companies tend to invest their social concern into:

1. Climate

2. Bio-diversity

3. Human health and well-being (that includes the position of women, education/literacy, food security, infrastructure and fair trade as well as health, housing and education).

These buckets can be summarised as addressing carbon, flora/fauna or people.

And overall there are three sorts of ways companies can contribute to these areas:

1. Gifts to particular charities and projects, often close to the personal interest of certain company leaders

2. Founding social enterprises, often in partnership with others

3. Integrating their concerns into all decisions – trying to influence the DNA of the organisation. 

So, we have a sort of 3×3 grid.

Where is your heart (which of the 3 buckets motivates you the most)? 

What do you want your practical actions (hands) to be?

The challenge is to use your head to make that ‘what and where’ a success!

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Ash cloud – what’s your reaction?

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Well the ash cloud is interrupting flights again. We are struck by the many alternative responses that people give to this:

– compassion for the shattered dreams of those wishing to travel (an important business meeting delayed, a postponed wedding, a funeral missed, a much needed holiday lost)

– delight at the reduction in carbon emissions from grounded jets

– awe at our human futility in the face of natural wonder

– anger at “health and safety gone mad”

– frustration at our collective impotence reinforced and our insignificance historically as well as environmentally

– worry at where this will end if other volcanoes erupt.

 What’s your reaction? Which is the one that is most helpful do you think?

When something frustrating happens today, try to see as many different ways of looking at it as you can.  What are the hypotheses that might make that behaviour of a colleague frustrating?  What are you finding difficult in that meeting?

You might find you can change your reaction.

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Join the climate debate

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How much do you know about climate science?

Interested in learning more?

If you are, here are some perspectives on the different schools of thought around the issues.

We first did this work a couple of years ago and have continued to use it our teaching on thinking about the future. 

It seems to resonate.

We hope it helps you join the debate.

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Selling science sustainably

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The New Scientist magazine offers some interesting observations on the recent debate about climate change science in its lead editotrial (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527492.500-honesty-is-the-best-policy-for-climate-scientists.html) and main article (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527493.700-can-we-trust-the-ipcc-on-the-big-stuff.html?full=true). These:

– reaffirm the basic conclusions of the science on the causes of climate change

– propose sustainability as the big overarching theme of our time (of which climate is a part)

– warn  against an ‘anti-human stance’

– insist that the scientific and public debate should be balanced with all evidence given fair weighing and treatment (and that doom mongering has the opposite effect to that desired by those who do it)

– highlight that governments wanting detailed forecasts of the possible impacts on their own countries has led to many questionable forecasts of what climate change will lead to (especially short-term over the next 10-20 years)

– take a positive view of the Earth’s ‘nine lives’  in being able to accommodate mankind (even though the article points out that three of the boundaries have been crossed already).

It’s a shift from a lot of the positioning and language around selling the science of climate change and sustainability that has been to the fore over the last few years.

Most of the thinking around helping humans change (whether as individuals or for organisational life) stress the need both to understand what is really going on now and to find a positive way to plan for the future.

It’s a message for us all in everything we do to be honest about what we know, what we don’t know, what we think might happen and what we can start to do to make things different.

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The scientific method: for AND against

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In our liberal, rational society there can be a tendency to “Science – good, other views – bad.”  But what is science?  For us it combines pursuing understanding through observation while suspending personal values.  The scientific process identifies a hypothesis and seeks predicted data for AND against it.  If it stands up to all or some scrutiny then things are getting clearer.  Even disproof is progress.

During the last month we have had The Scientist vs The Government (Professor Nutt vs Alan Johnson on Cannabis), and The Scientists vs The Sceptics (on Climate).  Looking in on these debates, it is not clear how far good scientific method is at work all the time.  If it isn’t, then poor process opens the way for other belief systems (public opinion about weed, economic risk assessments of climate reduction).  Just claiming to be ‘a scientist’ is in no way sufficient to demonstrate that your thinking is superior to that of others.  Showing openness of mind in pursuit of knowledge is.

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Irony #3

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In Cambridge, a car revs, blares its horn and launches past a cyclist who has just (somewhat slowly) passed a T-junction.

The car? 

A Prius.

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Today : tomorrow

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Climate change / The Hybrid Car / Global warning / Renewable electricity   :    the possibilities beyond Peak Oil.

Patient demands / The best of medical practice /  Government targets / Compassion  :   The potential beyond today’s reality.

Challenge / Response / Change / Hope   :   The solutions a problem can create.

The old ways /  The Demand for new solutions /  Anxiety and Pain / Ideas and Acceptance   :   Something new and better will come.

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