It is encouraging to see more businesses take significant steps towards sustainability. But savvy companies know that, while critical, this is not enough. They must take meaningful action to not only mitigate their environmental impact but to prepare for the changes that climate change will bring to the planet and to the economy. And, as with any revolution, this begins in our own backyards and communities. As landscaping professionals, we can make a difference now and in the future.

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The Impacts of Climate Change

It is difficult to get a majority of people to agree on anything. Yet 97% or more of climate scientists have reached consensus on two facts: the Earth is warming, and it is driven by human activities (particularly CO2 emissions). We are already experiencing the effects of climate change in our daily lives, including:

  • Longer, harder allergy seasons
  • Less nutritious, more costly food
  • More intense, frequent, and longer-lasting heatwaves
  • More devastating wildfires
  • More frequent and more severe hurricanes
  • More easily spread insect-borne disease
  • Mass migration from impacted areas
  • Water scarcity

The financial impact of climate change is also a pressing concern. According to a Morgan Stanley analysis, climate-related disasters (e.g. wildfires, hurricanes) cost North America some $415 billion in the past three years alone. Other research indicates that temperature changes could reduce incomes around the world by nearly a quarter by 2100, and that a 4.5℃ increase could slash global domestic product by a staggering $72 trillion.

Leading businesses are reimagining sustainability in order to meet today’s targets, as well as the challenges of tomorrow.

Moving Towards Climate Resilience

We’re starting to hear a lot more about “climate resilience” today. What is it? The term refers to the ability to withstand, adapt, and respond to climate change. How does it differ from “sustainability”?

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Sustainability focuses on ensuring we can do business as usual. Resilience ensures that we can do business in most unusual conditions – as long as we hone our ability to anticipate, adapt, and transform.

Here’s another way to think about it: the Earth has warmed 1℃ over pre-Industrial levels. To stave off the most catastrophic effects of climate change, we’d need to limit increases to 2℃ or, better, 1.5℃. To do that, we would need to reduce greenhouse emissions by more than 50% by 2050.

Climate resilience acknowledges that even if we do this – even if we were to completely eliminate emissions – we are still going to face consequences of climate change. CO2 and other gases would remain at heightened levels for years or decades. Adaptation is a must.

What Does Climate Resilience Look Like in Action?

Climate resilience is global: cutting emissions and other large-scale initiatives are imperative. But resilience is also hyperlocal. Small businesses and contractors can all make changes and implement strategies designed to help us adapt to and transform with changing conditions.

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For example, even though we’re currently seeing lower gas prices, experts predict an oil shortage in the coming decade. Businesses need to anticipate this and find ways to adapt. For lawn care businesses and contractors, it’s a no-brainer: electric mowers do not utilize fossil fuels. They run on clean renewable energy and they produce zero emissions.

But again, we need to think about adapting. For example, with more severe weather, including drought, expanding your services to include hardscaping may be a smart play. Likewise, if you work in an area that is prone to hurricanes and flooding, resistant landscaping services (e.g. utilizing native trees and shrubs, flood-tolerant spaces, using strategic spacing, performing maintenance ahead of storms, etc.) are sought-after.

No, it may not be what you started out doing, but it may be the key to meeting challenges with resilience rather than panic.

Remember, while global action is necessary, we cannot discount the importance of hyperlocal initiatives to mitigate environmental impact, as well as respond, adapt, and thrive in the world as we know it today and the one we’ll create for tomorrow.

Mean Green Mowers understands the importance of creating sustainable businesses for a greener future. Locate a dealer today to learn more about our electric mower line-up and how we can help you re-imagine a more sustainable landscaping business.