Sustainability Topics

The following are some of the topics that we shall cover, and some key questions we shall explore.

  • Climate change - the issue is one of global warming and the extent to which carbon dioxide emissions contribute to it. Which measures are more sustainable - those of mitigation (reducing emissions) or those of adaptation (coping with change).
  • Natural resources - are we depleting these too fast, rather than reusing materials that have already been extracted and processed? Are our mining and extraction methods suitably sustainable?
  • Water resources - significant numbers of the world's population do not have ready access to clean water. Growing population, climate change are contributing to increasing scarcity in parts of the developed world, where previously there was surplus. What is the way out of this conundrum?
  • Energy choices - which energy sources are more sustainable? Wind, wave, biomass - what are the pros and cons of each? How does nuclear power feature in the sustainability stakes?
  • Biodiversity - what are the implications of reduction of biodiversity? What is happening? How does it impact sustainability?
  • Low carbon economy - this is the mantra of many politians? Why is it needed? What does it mean in practice? How can we track progress?
  • Product footprint - how sustainable is a product throughout its life cycle, from extraction of raw materials through production, distribution, use and end-of-life? Are some of the 'obvious' green choices not so environmentally friendly after all?
  • Waste & recycling - our consumption-oriented 'throw away' society squanders potentially reusable or recyclable resources? What are the most effective ways of minimising waste and maximising recycling?
  • Pollution - what are the main causes of damage to our environment and making it hazardous for humans? What measures can governments, businesses and individuals take to prevent pollution?
  • Green buildings - building are a significant contributor to CO2 emissions. What other ways are they affecting the sustainability of our lifestyles. How can we make our homes, offices and other buildings 'greener' and more sustainable?
  • Food security - the developed world has had food surpluses in recent years while many in the developing world have faced starvation? But global warming and increasing population could well herald insecurities in supplies for all withour new technologies (GM anyone?) and improved methods. What are the challenges and how can we address them sustainably?
  • Sustainable strategies - we need to develop more sustainable ways of living and working at all levels from governments to individuals. Organisations in all sectors - private and public - have an important role to play in showing the way. What are the most cost-effective levers to improve sustainability in different industries and sectors? Who are the pacemakers and leaders, and what can we learn from them?
  • Policy measures - are governments using the right policy levers to encourage changes in behaviour that will lead to more sustainable lifestyles and a better future for our planet? How can we break the logjams that often impede progress in international forums that should be spearheading some important measures to improve sustainability?

In addressing these issues, we shall conduct an independent assessment of available knowledge to provide an analysis of the 3Ts - Trends, Tensions and Trajectories - to a more sustainable future. This objective synthesis will be represented by our Insights. However, this will not prevent us from taking particular stances as we develop content addressing the 5Ps - possibilities, perspectives, provocations, positions and practicalities.

Last updated: 18th December 2009

Something to think about

It only requires between 50-70 grams (depending on your method of calculation) of uranium to generate the same amount of energy as a tonne of coal. In addition every tonne of uranium used in a nuclear power station reduces by about 40,000 tonnes the amount of carbon dioxide that an equivalent coal-fired power would emit.

Why should we then keep building new coal-based power stations?

(It's these kind of figures put out by particular vested-interested lobbies that we shall investigate in our forthcoming analyses)