3 Questions about 2050 – Hilary Bekmann
Hilary Bekmann is just finishing up her role as Head of Sustainable Property at Macquarie University where she has spearheaded the first campus wide eco-footprint framework for a University in Australia.
I caught up with her before she jets off to a new life in San Francisco to ask 3 questions about 2050.
“Imagine that I have recently come back from a trip to the future, the year 2050 to be precise. In thinking about our future in terms of sustainability what 3 questions would you like to ask me?”
“The first question would have to be whats the ppm, how did we go? Did we manage to reduce it?”
Love it, nice question.
After a long reflection, the second one – “Do you feel confident about the future for your children or grandchildren?”
Another good one but scary one.
And the final one, “Did we give up entirely on trying to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and change tact to geo-engineering?”
Certainly a pertinent question given our lack of inaction on mitigation and move towards adaptation.
“How would knowing the answers to these questions help you?”
“Assuming that we could change the future, it would enable us to more effectively communicate to people what we should and could do to change the outcome. It would make it real, create a sense of urgency”
“It would help determine what the priority is, what should we do first.”
“Whether or not to have children”, I think this was slightly tongue in cheek but I can relate having children of my own.
“If you knew the future and what we needed to do, what do you think are our current enablers or barriers?”
“Change requires some level of shock and we don’t seem to have that, we seem to have lost the sense of urgency. We have lost the sense of momentum, we were doing a lot but not enough has happened recently.”
“There is a lack of safety in our discussions. Climate change has been made political and a belief. Your either a climate change believer or a non-believer, like religion. It’s not safe to talk about it at the dinner parties anymore.”
Very good point that one. The list of things not to talk about at dinner parties – sex, religion, politics and climate change!
“We have had some small shocks from climate change events recently but people are becoming apathetic to the shocks, they aren’t big enough for people to take notice.”
“We don’t have the systems and processes in place for it to not be emotive. But we do have a lot of people who care.”
“We have also placed value on human capital. In a knowledge economy, people are a company’s core asset and organisation’s need to work hard to reflect the values of their employees to retain talent. This is a big shift from a past of disposable factory/office workers. Green buildings are there to respond to the values of prized employees and to improve human capital. Sustainability is being recognised for that.”
“The final question for you to ponder, what is the one thing that you think defines sustainability or a sustainable lifestyle?”
Thanks for your time Hilary and safe travels to San Francisco.