Do we really know what we mean by sustainability?

By January 30, 2020 No Comments

Sustainability is a very cool word that does not come up from a temporary trend, but it should be a mindset of people and companies.

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Climate change is one of the most debated topics and one of the biggest concerns because it basically undermines many rights, such as the right to life, to healthy food, to health, and it brings strong injustices for future generations.

There have always been climate changes: seven ice ages, with the expansion and contraction of glaciers, in the last 650,000 years, of which the last ended about 11,000 years ago. Beyond these drastic changes, many civilizations have been devastated by the effects of even local climatic conditions: the Maya, the Khmer empire of south-east Asia, the Viking settlers of Greenland are all civilizations disappeared because of drastic local climate changes.

The problem arises when natural resources are overloaded in terms of consumption and exploitation. From the First Industrial Revolution, increasing quantities of polluting gases have been pumped into the atmosphere, triggering a heating rate of around 1°C, according to the IPCC, that also estimates global warming reaching an increase of 1.5° between 2030 and 2052. This would mean the accelerated extinction risk for 20%-30% of animal species, together with rising levels of massive migratory flows. Attention to climate change and to its most relevant factors are the focus of governments, NGOs, institutions, companies, citizens, who are committed to sustainability.

But are we sure that companies are implementing truly sustainable policies?

Sustainability means the possibility of keeping a situation indefinitely, without consuming resources or damaging the environment. The concept is that resources should not be used above their reproductive capability, and productions should not create waste damaging the environment.

As a result, companies have the most dramatic impact, and many have started to commit on sustainability policies affecting their production cycles: only local raw materials, recycled materials, reducing the energy consumption and using electricity produced by renewable sources in order to drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions. However, there are industries where to do much more, such as the food industry, because agri-food sustainability means avoiding herbicides and pesticides, as well as copper. In addition, the intensive cultivation and monoculture do not help biodiversity and the survival of wild species. True organic farming is biodiversity and respect for the life cycle of the complex ecosystem which we are a part of.

Another sensitive industry is automotive, since cars’ pollution remain the most dramatic factor in the climate change process. The topic of e-mobility is central: although many efforts have been made on the infrastructure side to equip cities and road networks with e-electricity supply stations, the decisive role depend on car makers, as they should enhance production of electric or hybrid cars.

The challenge which our world is facing to must not be underestimated. However, unlike the Mayans, Mesopotamia and other ancient civilizations, in the 21st century we have skills, means and resources to do something concrete and positively disruptive.

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