Do you care about the environment? If not, do you at least care about energy prices, food security and natural disasters?
Participants at a recent workshop in Australia did not think that climate change and green buildings were important issues to them but that sustainability was. When asked what sustainability meant to their community, they responded:*
‘Well lots of things – energy efficiency, renewable energy – a lot of people have those solar panel things on their homes, energy security, food – food costs and availability are a big issue, transport – the cost of fuel is huge here, and flooding – we live in a low lying area on a flood plain and our house insurance is going up.’
Pragmatic concerns like these remind us that we can make progress in dealing with climate change (both mitigation and adaptation) in really cost effective and practical ways by simply applying some common sense to the way we live.
Most people would agree about the need to reduce our reliance on non-renewable fuels, conserve water in a country famous for its droughts, and build communities that are more resilient to extreme events, such as floods and bushfires.
Storm surges, coastal erosion and tsunamis alone provide sufficient reason not to clear mangroves, develop wetlands, or build homes on coastal sand dunes (quite apart from any biodiversity and other benefits).
We don’t need to wait for proof of impending sea level rise or global climatic shifts to take action. We already face similar challenges every year or few years somewhere across our vast continent.
Let’s make sure that any sustainability measures we promote make sense to real people living in the real world.
* Source: Sustainability versus Climate Change. (Simon Wild. Accessed 5 Sept 2013)