Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor! How can we reduce the environmental impact of our own profession?
The change required to create a sustainable society and heal the damage caused by global warming and the overuse of natural services will involve an evolution of almost all aspects of society. The future will include carbon trading, zero emissions targets, full cradle-to-cradle product lifecycle analysis, small business environmental management requirements and many more environmental considerations. All aspects of our lives will be touched by the need to reduce our impact on the environment.
The rise of the Internet stimulated an evolution that is changing the way all professions in our economy work. In a similar, yet more profound way, the dire need to place our society on a more sustainable environmental footing is triggering a rapid transformation of all parts and roles in our society, economy, and places of work.
As with any change, there will be leaders, opportunities, risks and challenges. However, driving this change will be people who have been open-minded enough to understand our relationship with and responsibility to the environment and astute enough to assimilate this learning into their profession.
How to do it now!
Confronted with the need for society-wide change, we need to build and apply our stores of wisdom and courage. The acquisition of knowledge and a discussion about our future - and action toward shaping this desired future - are urgently needed.
Speak to your professional association
Ask your professional group about current thinking, discussion groups and projects that are starting to assimilate environmental responsibilities into your professional area.
Try searching the website of your professional association for "sustainable", "environment" or "carbon emissions" for relevant information. A list of Australian Professional Organisations, Associations and Societies is available here.
Investigate the latest research on sustainability in your field
University departments, PhD studies, academic papers and environmental think tanks are constantly exploring the environmental issues. Read, learn, discuss and form your own understanding of the current trends and thinking.
Get active and start a discussion group with your colleagues
If you work in a professional firm or an organisation with groups of people doing essentially the same roles, try starting a discussion group to generate and develop ideas about ways your professional group could assist the journey toward a sustainable society.
Why is this action important?
The environment has been put under stress from human activity on a global scale for the best part of a century. Today, this stress is evident through increased extreme weather events, drought and mass species extinction, just to name a few! We are beginning to realise the fragility of the natural systems that support us. Through our professions, we can take up the challenge of assimilating environmental thinking into our daily practices.
Why do this action?
Fights climate change
Reduce water use
The environment, which is our life support system, is suffering a 'death by a thousand cuts' and will only be preserved and restored by everyone addressing their contribution to these wounds. If human ingenuity, creativity and organisational skills are harnessed, carbon emissions will be reduced, water recognised as the scarce resource it is, and a sustainable balance with nature established.
The decline of the natural environment presents all of us with personal, professional and moral challenges - and opportunities for growth. Responsibility, leadership and the desire to leave a healthy legacy to our children are virtues that we urgently need to embrace. We can all be proud to help create solutions!