MOOC @ Bath : Sustainability for Professionals : Week 1&2 reflection

I’m trying to become a “Sustainability Expert”, whatever that may be, because I think that’s the person in me that is screaming to me to look for work that will truly fulfill me.

At the end 2013 I discovered MOOC’ing and searched for “Sustainability”. Currently I do “Sustainable Development” from prof. Sachs at Columbia. This course is very thorough on global sustainability issues and focusses on the 8 UN millennium goals. I discover (the course still runs) that this is not the type of sustainability that I want to become expert in. Because the other MOOC I was doing (Exeter, Climate Change) was finished (very interesting course it was), I did a narrower search and came across the University of Bath MOOC on Sustainability for Professionals. Because I am not yet working in the field I thought that it may be a bit to technical/abstract for me, but….. it isn’t!! I really enjoy it, so here are my reflections so far.

Week 1 : the triple bottom line
People, planet & profit were not new of course, the translation to the triple bottom line “economic, social and environmental IMPACT” was.
The rest of week one got me confused, because it was all about MY needs, interpretation of definitions and so forth. I was hoping so much that I would get concrete definitions and methods / heuristics to define sustainable or unsustainable behavior. Well that was of course to easy 🙂

Than I came across this blogpost (highly recommended) from Eleonora Nieuwjaar who is a PPP-philosopher I shall call here. She first proposes a set of moral values that together form a Moral Compass to guide you through your life. This way of thinking was WAY outside my world until recently but trying to create a holistic view of what sustainability actually means for ME this is exactly what I see in front of me: Sustainability is first of all a Moral Compass.

My actions are in line with my Moral Compass (“just”) when they are:

When looking at sustainability in this way (with a moral compass in hand) it suddenly becomes a lot easier to think about “needs” of companies and governments. OK, so that helped me get through week 1.

Than week 2.
“Choices, attitudes and social position” in relationship to sustainability. Without my insights of week 1 this would have been a tough one, but reading the other students comments got me in the flow again. And than we get to Dr Steve Cayzer (former HP, that is motivating!) who talks about drivers for sustainability in corporations:
– costs
– risks
– opportunities
And about
– constraints that stand in the way of sustainability changes

That was all very interesting, giving a basis for a framework to discuss sustainability issues. It’s also very interesting to see al the different viewpoints from people who are already active in the field, I have the feeling that I could have professional discussions with these kind of people, so I am right on track. Hope you all enjoy the weekend and meet you next week @ futurelearn,

Bye for now, Lars >

MOOC Refelctions : Climate Change, Exeter, week 1

How cool is that! My First ever MOOC, and the first thing they tell me is that I have to write blogs and tweet about them! I love to write blogs! ha!

So here we go, my first reflections on “climate-change-challenges-and-solutions”

What is the difference between weather change and climate change?

Weather, in my part of the world, The Netherlands, changes on a daily basis. Yet streams transport low and high pressure systems across the Atlantic and bring wet & windy weather when the wind blows from the west, cool and wet when wind blows from north, cool and dry when from the east and soft and wet when blowing from the south. The yet stream is the motor of weather changes.

“Climate” used to be the average measured, by definition, over a period of 30 years. Looking at these averages you could tell that winters were soft and wet, springs usually pleasant, summers comfortable, and autumn wet and windy. These averages show a lot of variability leading to winter periods with frost and snow (skating!!!) and sometimes semi tropical summers.

What I see changing in my lifetime is that the variability both in weather AND climate are changing:
– weather patterns get stuck : weeks on end with northerly winds, switching to weeks on end of southerly wind. Huge downpours, unknown since measuring began in the 1700’s, dried out dikes because of lack of rain. All weather phenomena.

With the changing of the weather (freak events every month, we just had the three “hottest” January days ever recorded) we see a changing of the climate: spring starts sooner (second week of January and we still see flowers), autumn ends later.

The relationship between the changing of the weather and changing if the climate was one of the reasons to enter this MOOC. I’ve done a lot of reading, and I think the culprit is the yet stream that is powered by the temperature difference between the equator and the poles. Because the poles (at least the arctic) heats up a lot faster than the equator, the delta-T gets smaller! and the motor behind the yet stream fails.

Time to discuss now, please do!!