Posts by This Writer

11 years 4 months ago

I met Wayne Visser about twelve years ago. He was studying the MSc in Human Ecology at the University of Edinburgh and I was volunteering at the Centre for Human Ecology. We were both fascinated by the ideas of new economics, sustainability and the place of business in all this. We must have discussed his dissertation project A Human Ecological Critique of the Financial Sector in the UK.

We're both still interested these issues, and with the world getting 'better and better, and worse and worse, faster and faster' (who said that?) it's easy to forgot how much has happened since then:

  • 1995: 2nd International Panel on Climate Change (yes, the 2nd!) predicted significant socioeconomic impacts. (I don't remember that.) World Trade Organisation...

11 years 6 months ago

Great graphs communicate important insights in compelling ways. An earlier version of this one apparently made a strong impression at the Scottish Parliament in June last year.

Three things you need to know: 1.) Each bar is a set of actions to reduce carbon emissions. 2.) Every bar below the line saves money, every bar above the line costs money. 3.) The wider the bar, the more carbon saved.

The graph comes from McKinsey & Compay's Jan 2009 report:...

11 years 8 months ago

The good news is that 14% of Scots are 'deep green' according to the Scottish Government's latest research. They believe climate change is an immediate and urgent problem and say they know a great deal or a fair amount about it. (Don't blame me, that's how the survey defines 'deep greens', nothing to do with the deep ecology movement).

The bad news is that 'deep greens' are no more likely to fly less or drive less...

11 years 9 months ago

Lord Adair Turner, chair of the UK government's advisory committee on climate change, makes tackling climate change seem (relatively) easy. But is keeping it simple, stupid? Or is it a sensible strategy to avoid frightening the horses?

I was one of 600 in Edinburgh University's McEwan Hall recently to hear Lord Turner eloquently outline a strategy for reducing UK CO2 emissions to 80% by 2050. I'll leave the details to the carbon policy wonks - but what struck me so strongly was how simple Turner makes it look. 

Of course he...

11 years 9 months ago

There's a nice looking business centre near where I work.

And I'm offering some free advice on how they could encourage greener travel, improve the well-being of clients and staff, and be more welcoming to visitors.

And it would only take five minutes.

Remove the sign. Assuming the bolts aren't rusty should only take a few minutes.
What quick stuff could you do to make life easier, greener and more friendly?
Osbert Lancaster is based in Scotland where he works with organisations to make the planet better.

12 years 2 months ago

<p>For years, like many others, I have been raising awareness of the fundamental fact that we all depend on a healthy, resilient ecosystem - often to be told that in the &lsquo;real&rsquo; world of money, business and politics the ecosystem doesn&rsquo;t count.<br /> <br /> That&rsquo;s now changed. In Scotland and across the globe it&rsquo;s recognised that significant action by international...

12 years 2 months ago

<p>Looks like rocky times ahead for all of us - financial markets in turmoil, fuel and food prices soaring, unemployment rising. The US and Europe are facing a long period of recession, with knock on effects across the globe.<br /> <br /> What does this mean for businesses that are trying to be responsible? I offer three propositions to think about:<br /> <br /> <strong>Proposition 1: Fundamental human needs remain fundamental</strong><br /> Manfred Max-Neef, the Chilean economist and environmentalist, argues we all have nine...

12 years 3 months ago

<p>Overwhelmed by endless bad news about environmental degradation, social injustice, war and all the rest of it, I used to feel burdened with a responsibility to do something about it.</p>
<p>But over last year or so, my perspective has shifted. I now see that I'm living at an exciting and fertile time. It's not that the environmental and social indicators are any better (they're worse).</p>
<p>What's different is that more and more people, in all walks of life, now recognise that the earth'...

12 years 3 months ago

<p>When King Midas was granted a wish by Dionysius - for finding and returning Dionysius's foster-father - Midas asked that everything he touched should turn to gold.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> With energy demand and costs soaring, the appeal of cheap energy is easy to see. And if that cheap energy could also be carbon-free, we might imagine the world's greatest crisis would be solved.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> We should be careful what we wish for. For Midas everything meant everything - including his daughter who became a gold statue when he touched her. Eating was tricky as...