IPCC’s Latest Warning Drives an Urgent Climate Call-to-Action—Join Us in Answering the Call
On August 5, 2021, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its 6th Assessment Report on Climate Change. There’s a good chance the report crossed your radar like so many other news stories on the topic of global warming resulting from human activity and the threats it poses to our planet. Your brain may have processed the news along these lines: Climate change…bad…getting worse…ice shelves melting…oceans rising…hurricanes…fires…moving on with my day…need a drink!
It’s an understandable reaction. Any number of established psychological phenomena—solution aversion, motivated reasoning, and others—easily explain this tendency. The problem is so grand, and the potential solutions so complex and difficult to implement, it’s natural to turn away in fear, or despair, or I’ll have a rye Manhattan, please.
But we shouldn’t let IPCC's warning report fade into the background. And it won’t, for much of the world. Many governments and companies are indeed deeply immersed in the challenge. They see that the consequences of global warming aren’t just coming—they’re here—as the IPCC has predicted for decades.
The first IPCC Assessment Report was issued in 1990, two years after the IPCC’s formation. With contributions from thousands of scientists and expert volunteers from nearly 200 countries, the IPCC’s reports truly represent the consensus of the international community of authorities on matters relating to climate change. The Sixth Assessment Report comes to us eight full years after 2013’s Fifth Assessment Report, and indeed—as its name suggests—is only the sixth in the IPCC’s 33-year existence.
These reports don’t come around often, and when they do, we should stop and take notice. This is as close as we’ll come to a definitive accounting of where we stand as it relates to climate change and its associated threats.
The proof of the IPCC’s prescience has, unfortunately, been in the pudding. Watching events unfold before our eyes in 2021 has offered near-daily confirmation of this, but data tends to be more reliable than the “eyeball test.” And 31 years after the initial assessment report, the IPCC’s models have proved highly accurate. If anything, the IPCC has erred on the side of conservatism, perhaps failing to sound the alarm quite loudly enough, whether we’ve wanted to hear it or not.
And so, IPCC's warning that the present outlook falls on the trajectory of the more alarmist projections of decades past—and that our present outlook represents a “code red for humanity”—should shake us all to our cores.
I, for one, am shaken. As I approach 50 and watch my kids grow from seven-pound nuggets into adolescents in the blink of an eye—and as I see them begin to process the calamities they’ll be left to face—I am no longer willing to allow my days to pass by without trying, somehow, to play some small role in lessening the extent of these calamities.
But…what, on earth, to do?
In 2019, my business partner Matt Smith and I had our awakening to this—this fight to preserve inhabitable earth for future generations—as Fine Tune’s “cause.” We shared the same concerns about human activities’ effects on the planet, and while the challenge is frighteningly vast and often seems insurmountable, we came to realize that we did have an uncommon opportunity to affect some real, meaningful change.
Our firm focuses on a small handful of industries, a few of which—waste and recycling, uniforms/textiles, and even pest control to a lesser extent—lies at the center of some of the world’s greatest sustainability challenges. Even in our 20th year, we’re a relatively small business, but we happen to work for some of the world’s largest companies. And through these client relationships, we thought, maybe—just maybe—we could find a way to play a role in implementing more sustainable behaviors on a grand scale.
We started, however, with some easier work: cleaning up our own “house”—becoming a carbon-negative business through a combination of measuring and improving our own carbon footprint, and also supporting one of the world’s top carbon-offset programs in Atmosfair.org’s Efficient Cookstoves, Nigeria project. By our 20th anniversary on February 1, 2022, we’ll have more than offset our entire historical carbon footprint. We appointed Chad Roeder to be our first Director of Sustainability. Earlier this year, we became a Certified B CorporationTM, perhaps our proudest achievement in our 20 years.
Now comes the hard part
We’ve built this business around cost savings and administrative efficiencies within some of the most burdensome indirect expenses. We’re proud of what we’ve built, and our clients love the dual benefits of saving time and money. But to achieve the lasting legacy we want to leave behind—and to truly advance our “cause”—we’ve got to add a third prong to the Fine Tune solution; we need to be implementing more sustainable solutions within our areas of expertise and in new arenas we’ll be expanding into in our pursuit of this purpose.
We’ve already begun this work, piling up some sustainability advancements within our clients’ organizations by simply reducing: usage, transportation, etc. But we’re looking for emerging, innovative solutions to offer our Fortune 500 clients, and on this front, I am calling out for your help:
If you work for a business that sells products or services which deliver sustainability advancements—particularly those which might connect in some way to indirect products or services typically owned by corporate procurement’s indirect teams (which tend to be our client contacts)—I want to hear from you. We want to vet your offerings. If they’re sound and reliable, we want to look for ways to offer these to our clients. If you KNOW someone who works for this kind of company, please share this with them and ask them to reach out to us. We want to forge strategic partnerships with the right firms offering sustainable products and services. If the results your company delivers can truly help our clients achieve more sustainable outcomes, we want to help you grow.
We can’t let the IPCC’s dire climate warnings cross our radars only briefly and then continue on with business as usual. On at least some level, we must be stirred to action. We are now taking the action of adapting and evolving our business to revolve in part around implementing sustainability “wins” for our clients.
If you take only one action as this crosses your radar, I hope it will be to introduce us to potential partners in this grand ambition. We will try to make some good of these introductions.