Many of us will ask – What is the environment. The word means different things to different people. For some, the term ‘environment’ means, simply, ‘nature’: in other words, the natural landscape together with all of its features and characteristics, other than human beings. To others, the term ‘environment’ includes human elements. There are people who would view the environment as being the trees, fields and sky, and there would be others who would include a busy high street, quarry and manufacturing site. The notion of the ‘environment’ therefore is associated with varied metaphors and is unavoidably bound up with innumerable assumptions and beliefs that are often unspoken – yet, sometimes strongly held. All of these conventions, however, have a central underlying supposition: that the ‘environment’ is defined by humans. That is why the milieu has been central to the unfolding account of human history. The area that we all live and breathe in can be viewed as our environment. It is where history has been played out, it is the resource of all our achievements, it is the habitat where we as humans have been able to create and progress. No matter what our personal definition of the ‘environment’ is, it is obvious that it is absolutely vital to our existence and futures.
Environment comes from ‘environs’ – surroundings. The ‘surroundings’ of an individual, an object or a system could be included in their respective environments. To be more precise, individuals, objects and systems ‘are’ not ‘could’ be included in their environments. This is due to the fact that we cannot stand alone, none of us are sole entities. We all interact with things, people, locations and elements around us.
The environment is, therefore, not that thing you can see out of your window, but the very thing that you exist in. Everything we are and have, is bound up in the concept of the environment.
Which leads us to ask – If it is that important, why don’t we look after it?
The science of understanding the environment has lately move towards using the term ‘earth system’ which is a broader concept and allows the mind to deal with the interdependency of all biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) components of the environmental system.
What does this mean for us?
We have to accept that there are literally no aspects of human life that do not impact our environment. Nothing we do has zero affect. If that is the case, we must try in every possible way to offset that impact.
Merely walking through a forest can cause damage to the soil. Almost everything we do at home will have a large impact on the environment somewhere not too far away. It goes to say, that everything we do in the workplace, will have an impact on the environment and our futures.
To have a mindset that we are negatively affecting our earth system by merely existing, sounds very dramatic, and could bring despondency upon us all. However, instead of having that mindset, we possibly should fully recognise the impact we are having upon our earth system (the environment around us) our ecosystem, our atmosphere and choose to do something positive about it.
At FAME Services we have assessed our carbon footprint and been advised of the carbon usage, which is measured in tonnes. We now know what scale of impact we are having on the earth system, and look out of the window and see all the other businesses around us that maybe have not had their assessments, who carry on as they have historically done so. That is not to be critical, as before our assessment we were in the same position. It is, however, blatantly obvious that many companies in the UK today (2022) have not assessed their own impact levels and are actually doing nothing to offset that impact.
The Net Zero Strategy set by the UK government sets out policies and proposals for decarbonising all sectors of the UK economy to meet net zero target by 2050.
We either choose now to act, or delay for a while, but ultimately the change is coming upon us.
I feel that large industry, public bodies and organisations will have an understanding of what is required, will have allocated funding to the issue, will have dedicated staff working on a full-time basis around the subject. Those people, in the know will understand all the terminology and current used phrases. When you think about it, this new part of industry is very new, cutting edge. It did not even exist in the 1970’s. If you saved old food stuffs to recycle in that era, you would have been a very lonely individual. Because of the speed of change and the amount of work being put into this, which is all valid and positive, I do feel that small and small to medium sized businesses are being left behind.
The problem for many is the different terms used (Carbon Neutral, Net Zero, Climate Neutral) point to different ways in which emissions sources are accounted for. These terms help to indicate what is and is not included in the calculation or a target. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change concluded the need for net zero CO2 by 2050. Net zero is the agreed upon goal for mitigating global warming in the second half of the century.
In effect, all our policies and procedures, the way we act, the way we respond, has to be in place and contributing to this policy within the next 27 years. That’s sounds a long time, but we haven’t even begun using electric vehicles, electric lorries, electric trains. Recycling, reusing and reducing needs to move on several gears, starting now.
In our race to zero we need to stop what we are doing. We need to reflect on our actions and behaviour and put in place actions, policies and procedures that will in reality start right now to do something about it.
In any other ‘race’, the winner would get a prize.
In this race, our prize is the planet we live in!