Thursday, October 13, 2011

Maldives could benefit from groundbreaking integrated climate change model

The Maldives, which is committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2020, could significantly benefit from a new branch of environmental science.

The Integrated Resource Model, which has been developed by Peter Head, of the Ecological Sequestration Trust, uses cloud computing to develop ecological models that boost economic growth and reduce carbon emissions.

Mr Head told delegates at the third annual Six Senses SLOW LIFE Symposium, that global computing power could be used to create a new development model for the Maldives.

He said: “Integrated resourcing covers energy, food, water and waste management. It is the concept that no single environmental problem can be solved in isolation.”

He added that the concept of sharing was vital in the fight against climate change. The most efficient use of finite resources, he explained, was sharing in a common cause.

Cloud computing is just one example of sharing – in this case computing processing power. Cloud computing is vital to his integrated resource modeling, which will be made available through open source on the “cloud”.

Mr Head also said that linking urban and rural development could boost overall agricultural output despite the loss of land for residential development.

“The analysis shows we can reduce carbon intensity but improve the ecological footprint as well,” he said.

He warned delegates that unless the pace of change towards a sustainable economy was accelerated, there would be a 50% chance of runaway climate change by 2070 that would lead to “total human catastrophe”.

Mr Head told delegates that he was seeking funding to enable the Maldives to take a global lead in Integrated Resource Modeling.

Other speakers during the last day of the SLOW LIFE Symposium included Sir Richard Branson, Eric Scotto of Akuo Energy and Jose Mariano, the founder of zero2infinity – the company which is planning on sending people into space using helium-filled balloons.

In the last session of the day, Sir Richard Branson said that business leaders had to do more to advance sustainable business development.

“If you are lucky enough to be a successful business leader – and you need a large element of good fortune – there is extreme responsibility that comes with that.

“If leaders are not responsible citizens and don’t redistribute that wealth then our current form of capitalism becomes questionable.

“Companies can become forces for good. The differences they can make locally and internationally is significant and the bottom line does not need to suffer for that to happen.”

Sonu Shivdasani, the Chief Executive of Six Senses, concluded the Symposium by saying that “sustainable business” had to become the norm and that the way in which business leaders were judged had to change to encourage companies to pay more attention to their environment.

“How we measure CEOs dictates how those CEOs behave.”
He added that the institutional owners of publicly listed companies should judge CEOs’ long term commitment to sustainability best practice and not just on short term profits.


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