“When a problem arises do not ignore it. Take the time to evaluate it. Take the time to understand it in (an) effort to discover and implement a solution.” Wendy Nicole Anderson
Climate change is a real problem, and it is not just going to go away simply by looking the other way. It is a serious issue that needs to be recognised and addressed. The issue, although fundamentally and most importantly an environmental one, also has a ripple effect which negatively impacts businesses and the economic climate at large.
The most obvious impact to South Africa’s economics through climate change will be to the Agricultural Sector. In a farming country like South Africa, the Agricultural Sector is of vital importance to the country’s economic stability. Climate change directly affects the production of crops which in turn puts the sector’s agricultural output at risk. However, the Agricultural Sector is not the only industry at risk.
Climate change affects all businesses to some degree through the impact it has on resources – either directly, such as water supply, or indirectly, such as electricity. Many businesses in the Western Cape, for example, faced a real challenge with the drought and water problems. Resources that had been allocated towards helping to maintain and grow businesses had to instead be put towards maintaining the facilities’ most basic natural resources.
Recognising that there is a problem, although important, is not sufficient in and of itself. Further action needs to be taken to “understand” the problem and to “implement a solution”. John J Coetzee, CEO of Green Worx Cleaning Solutions, states, “Our world is in real trouble, but we have the means at our disposal to educate ourselves about the dangers and risks and to readjust our behaviour for the best possible outcome. There are many things that we can do, for instance not using cleaning products that pollute the air.”
The issue lies mainly in the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) found in chemical based cleaning products, perfumes and paints. These react with other chemicals in the atmosphere and create a harmful ozone which can lead to breathing and health problems to those who inhale it. Air pollution also directly adds to and impacts climate change. The world simply isn’t able to keep up with the harmful chemicals and pollutants society is adding to the atmosphere every day.
According to Alastair Lewis, professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of York, “It’s hard to say how much pollution is down to VOCs, but a rough estimate is that between one quarter and a third of all particles are made up of organic compounds that originate as VOCs.”
It is thus essential that practices and technologies be shifted to reduce VOCs. Reducing the country’s carbon footprint by altering everyday practices (such as car-pooling to work and shifting to innovative bio-enzyme cleaning products, for example) make a much larger impact than many realise.
“It is in our everyday habits that we generate the most pollution. The small things that you don’t even think of often have the largest negative effect on the environment, our families and our businesses. These are the things that are used regularly and in our everyday environment. Fortunately, that also means that they are the things we have direct control over; they are the things we can change to ensure a healthier future for ourselves, our loved ones, the economy, and our world,” concludes Coetzee.