Category Archives: 5 Environment

Water shortage risks highlighted by Marsh

A report from the newly launched Marsh Center for Risk Insights highlights the risk of water shortages.

Marsh was under severe scrutiny in 2005 for governance issues.  They have clearly taken concerns of global sustainability to heart with the launch of their new research centre.

Their report singles out water shortage as one of the greatest and most immediate threats.   Ironically although 40% of those surveyed believe that a water shortage would be severe or catastrophic for their business operations, less than 20% of Fortune 1000 companies surveyed are prepared for a water shortage crisis.  Companies across industrial sectors could be affected by water shortage issues directly and indirectly through their supply chains, with even non-water intensive companies realizing higher costs as suppliers deliver higher costs.  And water-related costs are rising with manufacturers paying to treat both source water and wastewater.

Article here.

WBCSD  Global Water Tool.

WBCSD Business in the world of water: WBCSD water scenarios to 2025

WBCSD Water Facts and Trends

WBCSD Collaborative actions for sustainable water management

Role of soil in climate change highlighted

The International Forum on Soils, Society and Climate Change, a title you wouldn’t have imagined a few years ago, attempts to raise our awareness of soil erosion and the impact it has on the environment.

Every year, some 100,000 square kilometres of land loses its vegetation and becomes degraded or turns into desert.  In addition, soil is degraded by the use of unnatural herbicides and pesticides which reduce the natural bio-cycles of the soil habitat.

Degraded soil not only impacts food production but also reduces the ability of soil to hold water, thus increasing the tendency to flood, and reduces soil’s ability to retain carbon.  Degradation is responsible for up to 30% of the world’s greenhouse gas releases, according to Ohio State University. Soil degradation  also alters temperature and energy balance of the planet.

The principal solutions are to increase natural farming methods and move away from industrial agriculture, and to halt deforestation and replace it with sustainable forestry.

Looking forward as much as 20% of anticipated net fossil fuel emissions between now and 2050 could be stored by sequestering or storing carbon in the soil and vegetation according to the U.N. Development Programme.

These concerns are highlighted by the recent and sudden interest in primary biofuels which may be produced by industrial agriculture.

Eat naturally grown, local food, and less meat, to make a real difference.

EU reports water wastage of 40%

EU leaders agree that up to 40% of water is being wasted by consumers, industry and farmers across Europe. The EU executive is calling for higher water prices and better implementation of existing water-management rules.

Commission’s latest report is here.

EU: 01 Septemeber Presidency Conclusions 

WWF: Freshwater page

Commission: Water policy website

Corporate attitudes to sustainability around the world

A new study by Harris Interactive explores attitudes toward sustainability among companies around the world. Their summary findings are:

  • Waste reduction is considered the most important environmental issue in the USA; Brazil; Italy; Germany and China. Korea and India place more importance on developing green/environmentally friendly products.
  • Overall, the use of renewable/cleaner energy sources is considered less important than waste reduction or developing green/environmentally friendly products.
  • Health and safety of employees, customers and suppliers is the most important driver of environmental and sustainability decisions in all countries except Korea, where the long term business sustainability was rated higher.
  • Overall, customers and the government are the two main influencers on a company’s sustainability and environmental decisions.

The study is easy to read with only four pages of graphics accompanied by explanations.

Seeing how big that company’s footprint is

The September issue of Inside Innovation offers a clutch of interesting articles as usual, but this graphic caught my eye because it so clearly shows the relatively massive impact industry can have on the biosphere. There is a small proviso though: the banks with the small footprints are the organisations that fund the chemical companies with the BIG footprints.