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The Heat is On & Global Leaders Recognize It as No. 1 Risk


Not unnoticed this past week was news from two U.S. government agencies—NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—that 2015 shattered 2014’s record to become the hottest year since reliable record-keeping began. Fifteen of the 16 hottest years on record have now occurred in this century, according to NASA. NOAA said that for December, the “temperature departure from average was also the highest departure among all months in the historical record and the first time a monthly departure has reached 2°F.” In Paris in December, global leaders agreed that our planet should not be allowed to warm 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. Based on 2015’s temperature record, however, we are already half way to that 2 degrees.

This news, plus the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Risks Report (a report every CEO should read), put climate change front and center this past week. In its report, the World Economic Forum ranks the top five most impactful risks our planet faces. The failure of climate change mitigation and adaption is considered the most impactful risk this year and for years to come. Ranking No. 2: weapons of mass destruction. No. 3: the water crises.

Almost 750 experts and decision makers in the World Economic Forum’s multistakeholder communities responded to this year’s Global Risks Perception Survey. Respondents were drawn from business, academia, civil society and the public sector and span different areas of expertise, geographies and age groups. The survey asked respondents to consider 29 global risks—categorized as societal, technological, economic, environmental or geopolitical—over a 10-year time horizon, and rate each according to their perceived likelihood of it occurring and impact if it does.

The Interconnectedness of Risks

Of course risks do not exist in and of themselves. They are all connected. Global warming impacts water availability, biodiversity, food security, fuels the movement of refugees, contributes to conflict and disease, and yes, it impacts the travel industry in many different ways. As sea levels rise, who will pay to stay at underwater hotels along our coasts? The fish? Our industry is also vulnerable to energy shocks—dramatic movements in the price of energy. If millions of folks lose their jobs because of low energy prices, will they still have the money to stay at our hotels? (According to the Global Risks Report, The International Monetary Fund expects more than 10 million people to be looking for work by 2020 in the Middle East’s oil-exporting countries.)

The Global Risks Report offers valuable advice to organizations interested in preparing for global change, includes a Security Outlook 2030 chapter, and addresses the forces that may disrupt business growth. “While offering companies opportunities to lower production costs and countries the chance to develop economically by participating in global value chains, the internationalization of business increases exposure to global risks,” the report says. “From environmental to economic and political risks, companies are vulnerable even if they have no immediate presence in the geography where the risk arises.”

Our industry has experienced some record years lately. The Global Risks Report, along with recent news from NASA and NOAA, indicate there may well be dramatic changes in the years ahead for our environment, the economy, our industry, and how we all relate to one another. It will be interesting to see how our industry joins together to meet these future challenges. Who will provide leadership? Who will stimulate conversation around such important topics? Who will challenge our industry to do better and set more ambitious goals? Who will leverage their expertise to take advantage of all of this change?

Be sure to read the Global Risks Report and if you have comments you would like to share, I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

Green Lodging News Adds GFL USA as Directory Partner

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Who is Your Sustainability Champion?

Green Lodging News is always looking to profile sustainability champions in our Personnel Profile section. If you would like to nominate someone for this section of Green Lodging News, contact me at (813) 510-3868, or by e-mail at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

Looking for Guest Columnists

Every two weeks Green Lodging News posts a new guest column on its website. (Click here for examples.) The guest column also appears in the weekly e-newsletter. Green Lodging News is currently in need of industry experts to contribute occasional guest columns. Experts may include consultants, architects, designers, suppliers and those who own or operate green lodging establishments. Columns may be articles that take a stance on a particular subject or be strictly educational in nature. Columnists benefit by having their photo included along with a one paragraph description of their company. Interested in writing a column? Contact Glenn Hasek, publisher and editor, at (813) 510-3868, or by e-mail at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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As always, I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.