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SOME THOUGHTS : The Climate Crisis and its Impact on Work and Workplaces


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One is enjoined to call a spade a spade. When certain signs and symptoms are unmissable, an aetiology is indicated, and a diagnosis is ineluctable. And so do stark, extreme and unprecedented shifts in global weather patterns point to a climate crisis in no uncertain terms.

Some of the notable phenomena are: Winters and summers getting warmer; Global temperature increases above pre-industrial levels; More CO2 emissions than ever before; Excessive rainfall; Intense heat; Widespread wildfires; Rise in sea levels, e.g. in Indonesia (current capital on the verge of sinking), Tuvalu, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Greenland; Land subsidence; Depletion of wildlife by 60% over past 40 years; Power outages during extreme temperatures.

In the excessively hot temperature earlier this summer in the UK, rails were tending to buckle, causing the slowing down of trains, affecting travel services.
So, already it is a worrying scenario, with the worst yet to come. And, if human behaviour is implicated, regarding ecological matters in terms of environmental management or rather mismanagement , there is potentially the hope that human behaviour can be altered and modified to a sufficient extent, and on a prompt timescale, so as to avert irreversible catastrophes.

The sobering reality is, that facts and figures alone, logic and reason by themselves, would not achieve the turnaround and the reconfiguring of our ways of living, of redesigning business and economic models, reorienting consumer-centric activities, and modifying other unhelpful human propensities.
There is above all, a call for an aesthetic, spiritual and emotional awakening too, to achieve a redemptive paradigm shift.

According to Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, global banks are having to take serious note of ominous climate changes and their deleterious effects on world finance. The financial sectors’ losses from extreme weathers and their investments in polluting industries, can be considerable.
And therefore, environmental concerns and climate sensitivity and savviness must perforce become part and parcel of conducting businesses, running enterprises or steering organisations or institutions, public, private, profit or non-profit, locally or globally. Not only should the awareness and actions be confined to the senior tier, but be signed up to, collectively, on a system-wide scale.
As far as work and work organisations go, minds must necessarily be concentrated on the imperatives of business continuity. Painstaking and complex climate impact assessments should be undertaken on a recurrent basis. This would lead, inter alia, to revamped and updated policies, procedures, and protocols, in the face of discontinuous and massively disruptive changes wrought by extreme climates.
Predictive models, and farsightedness, may be needed for proactive mitigatory measures to be in place.

Alternative flexible working arrangements and modes of operating, such as remote working, or mixed modes, may become more the norm in the events of infrastructure breakdowns, communication and transportation failures.
Changing work patterns in the context of the climate crisis, would entail reskilling, job rejigging, in order to take up new roles and responsibilities, such as in a possible expansion of the alternative energy sectors, and the likely scaling up of adverse-environment-capable AI.

Greater degrees of autonomy and discretionary latitude in work organisations, would help foster greater ingenuities in alternatives generation, with ahead-of-the-curve thinking, to meet the emergent climate-related challenges. Democratic work cultures can be more conducive to participatory and collective problem-solving.
Health and Safety measures may need to be updated or upgraded in line with changing work environments due to extreme climate conditions. Those employees and their families being critically impacted may need special support, accommodation and counselling.
Corporate social responsibility could no longer be a cliché, slogan or byword, but would be tested to the core.

A number of the climate-induced adjustments fall within the HR domain, as well as within mainstream corporate realm. The entire workforce would need to be engaged, and be appropriately prepared for the worst-case scenarios, while still maintaining high morale and commitment.

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