A recent environmental report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that the world faces climate hazards over the next few decades due to global warming. The IPCC, a UN organization studying climate change, published its report February 27, 2022. Here are key takeaways from the report and what it means to businesses.
The IPCC report's main warning is that the irreversible impact of climate change on nature is making it difficult for many humans to adapt. The study found that over 40 percent of the global population is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The report suggests in order to avoid massive disasters, temperatures will need to stay below 1.5C.
Nature is being altered as a result of unpredictable climate conditions. Rising temperatures are causing coral reefs to die and trees to dry out. Coastlines are sinking in various parts of the world including the United States. The IPCC expects a billion people to be affected by coastal climate disasters in the next two decades.
Professor Debra Roberts, who is an IPCC co-chair, has stated ecosystems and species that have been around all our lives may cease to exist. She has proclaimed the 2020s to be the decade of action to face the challenges posed by climate change.
Health and Wellbeing Concerns
Climate change events such as floods and heatwaves are harming people much worse than projected in the past. The study indicates that severe climate conditions are affecting certain people more than others, depending on where they live. Areas with high risks of severe storms, floods and droughts are Africa, South Asia, Central America and South America.
Diseases will likely spread more quickly in the coming years, according to the report. The IPCC notes the risk of mosquito-borne dengue fever spreading toward the end of the century. Risks will decrease, however, the more focus is placed on education and reducing poverty. Furthermore, healthy ecosystems provide stronger resilience to climate change than areas where disease is widespread.
A worker's health and well-being is now a key concern for many employers. Workforces full of ill employees aren't as productive as one that promotes health and wellbeing. So it's up to employers to promote a work-life balance environment. An example of an unhealthy workplace is one full of indoor air pollution, which is known to cause illness.
Employers must also be careful not to overwork employees, which can lead to fatigue and the beginning of worker burnout. It's important for businesses to create an upbeat atmosphere that workers find enjoyable, since too much stress contributes to reduced productivity. Allowing workers to take regular breaks gives them a chance to do healthy exercise like walking or stretching.
Check out the recording of our webinar "The Shift to Earth 4.0", where our panel of experts shared their knowledge and perspectives on the state of the environment and how Industry 4.0 will impact the earth.
Species Threatened by Warming
Nearly half of living organisms analyzed by the IPCC are currently migrating to higher ground or toward the poles. If temperatures reach 1.5°C, up to 14 percent of species face a high risk of extinction. There is already a high extinction rate in areas identified as vulnerable biodiversity hotspots, where rising temperatures threaten extinction rates to double.
Some of the ways local governments can help reduce wildlife extinction threats include passing stricter regulations on pollution to protect the ground, air, and water from toxins. The more polluted the ecosystem becomes, the more extinction rates will rise. Plastics consumed by marine life also spread toxins throughout the food chain.
The decreasing bee population is a further warning signal the same ecosystem that affects humans is being disrupted. The honey bee population declined 40 percent just in the 2018-2019 winter season. The same rate loss occurred the following winter. Bee pollination generates $50 billion worth of agricultural production annually. Not enough media focus has been on the connection between the environment and the food supply, which impacts dramatically businesses and individuals.
Facing Urgent Environmental Solutions
The clock is ticking on governments around the world to implement tighter environmental regulations and encourage a shift toward clean renewable energy sources. But the report warns certain technological solutions could make things worse. It discourages ideas of deflecting the sun's rays or removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Instead, the IPCC emphasizes "climate resilient development."
The concept of climate resilient development calls for mass adoption of sustainability as a foundation for society and business. It encompasses governments, media, businesses, educators and citizens working together to promote less harmful effects on the overall ecosystem. The concept embraces renewable energy and working toward sustainability goals on a daily basis.
In other words, government alone isn't going to solve the problem of climate change and its effects. A widescale effort among everyone on the planet to adopt sustainable solutions is what's needed to reduce the growing risks of climate change. Media and universities need to spread the word about why sustainability is important for everyone.
How Businesses Can Prepare for Climate Change
The question as to whether climate change is real has been answered by record-breaking temperatures and increasing environmental disasters. Businesses must accept that there are major consequences to dependence on systems that make the ecology worse. Floods and fires are getting more severe in places that haven't had such problems in the past.
No given business is expected to have all the answers to guard against the disastrous effects of climate change. But there's an emerging set of principles spreading across industries known as ESG, which addresses environmental, social and governance concerns. Here are some of the important concepts under the ESG umbrella:
- Clean renewable energy
- Green solutions (reuse, repurpose, recycle)
- Energy conservation via smart tech monitoring tools
- Use of eco-friendly materials instead of hazardous materials
- More efficient operational processes
- Use of IoT devices to identify waste
- Cybersecurity strength to protect data privacy
- Software that ensures government compliance
- Business continuity planning
- Workplace diversity
- Safe work environment
- Fair treatment of employees
- Open and transparent leadership
Every business can benefit from digital technology to become more efficient so that they reduce waste while increasing productivity.
Smart technology has been monumental in helping large manufacturers and utilities identify and resolve problems relating to production waste. It has also sped up decision-making and provided more reliable, agile and accurate processes via automation.
Businesses should develop an infrastructure designed for integrating smart technology and other new advancements. The combination of automation and machine learning technology can provide your business with alerts when your system is in danger.
Preparing for the worst possible climate change disaster is a step toward greater business continuity and sustainability. By storing your critical data in three different locations, which may include cloud servers, the business is less likely to be wiped out by a sudden natural disaster.