How Much Should Business Leaders Know About Climate Change?
Climate change affects every single person on Earth, but it has a profound effect on businesses, which face increased government regulation and shifting consumer tastes in addition to the changing weather patterns and disastrous climate events experienced by everyone else. Yet, few business leaders understand the forces behind climate change, which means they are woefully ill-equipped to protect their organization from its effects.
There are many ways business leaders can educate themselves about the effects of climate change. Leaders should develop business strategies to protect their businesses against climate change while working to reduce energy consumption, waste production and other negative effects on the environment. A business sustainability management online course could provide leaders with useful tools in leading an organization through various sustainability challenges and assuring success.
Business leaders don’t need to be climate change experts, but if they are committed to implementing more sustainable business practices, it pays to understand a bit of the science. Here’s a quick review of everything business leaders should know about climate change as they make changes to reduce its impact on their bottom line.
What, Exactly, Is Climate Change?
It is easy to conflate climate and weather, as both involve temperature, humidity, airflow, and other atmospheric conditions. But, weather changes every day, whereas climate change is a crisis worthy of global concern.
Climate change is best defined as a shift in average weather conditions. Climate change has occurred on Earth before; in fact, climate change is a natural process, the result of fluctuations in the composition and movement of soil, water, and atmosphere. However, climate change typically occurs exceedingly gradually, shifting one degree Fahrenheit over several tens of thousands or even millions of years. Thus, the environment usually has time to adapt to changing temperatures, protecting ecosystems from utter devastation.
The current climate crisis is the result of rapid climate change, in which we have seen global temperature increase to almost 2 degrees Celsius in just 150 years. Thus, natural environments have not had time to react to the shifting climate, and extreme weather events caused by the increase in global temperature have begun to take their toll. Droughts, floods, wildfires, hurricanes, winter storms and more are occurring with increasing regularity, impacting human communities, and surrounding ecosystems.
Climate change is undeniably the result of human activity, as all reputable climate scientists agree. Centuries of burning wood, coal and gas has allowed certain compounds to accumulate in the atmosphere, which intensifies and traps heat from the sun. Today, corporations are overwhelmingly responsible for the emissions causing climate change, and most consumers are frustrated with a lack of corporate accountability around climate change.
Why Does Climate Change Matter to Business?
Climate change is an immediate threat to business, and business leaders need to make improving the sustainability of their organizations a top priority. Here are a few reasons businesses should focus on integrating more sustainable practices:
Weather patterns can interfere with supply chains. Supply chains are greatly affected by weather, both in the creation of resources and the transportation of them to businesses or consumers.
Weather patterns can increase insurance costs. The increasing intensity of weather events can subject businesses to a more significant risk of valuable assets, which means higher insurance payments to protect businesses from costly losses.
Weather patterns can cause labor shortages. Workers can be impacted negatively by climate change in ways that thwart their productivity within an organization.
Climate change could increase government regulation. Already, governments around the world enforce climate change policies that affect how businesses can operate. As climate change escalates, regulations could increase, further restricting operations and increasing costs.
Climate change is an important issue for consumers. Many consumers are interested in supporting organizations committed to sustainable practices, so businesses with green reputations are more likely to gain public support.
Climate change is one of the defining challenges of the current era. Business leaders need to know enough about climate change to provide appropriate leadership during this defining time in history.