The most fundamental evolution of the field from environmental policy to sustainability management is that our profession is no longer limited to advocates, lobbyists and policy makers, but now includes entrepreneurs, green financiers, builders, managers and owners.
While I see little hope of modernizing the environmental regulatory structure under the current regime, last week provided some hope that the U.S. Senate won’t allow our environmental laws to be dismantled.
We are in a new era of information, computation and communication, which requires that we develop new methods for verifying facts and data.
The effort to ensure that humans can continue to benefit from the miracle of this planet, and increase the distribution of those benefits to all of humanity is well underway. A positive vision of sustainability underlies much of the progress we have made thus far, and will be of increasing importance as the transition to a renewable resource based economy gains momentum.
The Beatles demonstrated that something foreign could be exciting and worth exploring. We don’t need to make America great again or only think of America first. The Beatles came into being at the dawn of our global culture and I strongly believe we are nowhere near its dusk.
If we are to continue to grow our economy without destroying the planet’s basic systems that sustain human life, we need to learn a great deal more about our planet and the impact of human activities on natural systems.
There are places where EPA will fail the American people. But while state and local governments cannot perform all the functions that a national environmental agency can, visible local environmental and health impacts will lead mayors and governors to act.
More and more companies and nonprofits have a chief sustainability officer and are beginning to incorporate sustainability concerns into routine management. The world is slowly starting the transition from today’s economy based on fossil fuels, destruction of ecosystems, and the one time use and disposal of finite resources, to an economy based on renewable resources and the least possible damage of natural systems by human activities.
Until President Trump’s election, auto manufacturers supported the ambitious emissions and fuel efficiency goals set by the Obama Administration. Now, with the chance to escape these requirements, they are lobbying to get rid of them.
Trump’s proposed budget includes an effort to shrink funding for university-based science research and the national labs run by the Department of Energy. Research on fundamental earth systems science is also cut as is funding for state environmental agencies and national environmental emergency response.