ARTICLE: Sustainable Service Delivery in a Changing Climate – A Moment of Reckoning! (Asset Management BC Newsletter, September 2019)

Note to Reader:

The September 2019 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter includes an article written by Kim Stephens, M.Eng., P.Eng, Partnership Executive Director. This article builds on the inter-generational article co-authored by the writer for the Summer newsletter.

Originally prepared for publication as a newspaper Op-Ed, the focus of this expanded article is on how elders are leading by example to bridge a demographic gap until Generations X, Y and Z take the inter-generational baton.

The article connects four dots: the Doomsday Clock – the threat; Adapt to a Changing Climate – the challenge; Improve Where We Live – the vision; and, Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework – an expectation.

A challenge to Generations X, Y and Z – accept the inter-generational baton offered by those who can help you make a difference to improve where you live. Learn from the experience of elders. Build on it. No need to reinvent the wheel!

“Greenland’s glaciers are melting; the Amazon forest is on fire. At a moment in history when the phrase ‘climate emergency’ is top of mind for many, and given that there is no easy or quick fix, the article reminds us that history repeats itself. Or, as the French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr wrote in 1848, ‘the more things change, the more they are the same’,” wrote Kim Stephens. Karr (1808-1890) was a French critic, journalist and novelist.

“A half-century ago, society was galvanized by a daunting challenge. Learn from elders how to do it again. Three examples of ‘elders in action’ underscore why knowledge, experience and wisdom built-up over time are invaluable in first understanding what needs to be done, and then, how to get it done. When time is of the essence to change our practices, society no longer has the luxury of taking decades to re-invent the wheel.

“So, what can the Asset Management BC audience do from a sustainable service delivery perspective – and how quickly can the process be set in motion – to successfully tackle the challenges for the built environment caused by the accelerating rate of climate change, and thus improve where we live?”

Learn from History

“Viewed in a global context, the 2010s are a ‘dark decade’ – climate emergency, Donald Trump, an amoral collection of world leaders…… the Doomsday Clock is currently set at 2 minutes to midnight – matching 1953. Yet there is hope. Remember, understand and learn from history,” says Kim Stephens.

“The 1960s, also a dark decade, was followed by the ‘decade of the environment’. That is when many of us came of age. We were hopeful about the future. We believed that we could make the world a better place. We dedicated our professional lives to that vision. Today we are elders. Our mission continues.

“Fifty years ago, in 1969, three transformational moments occurred in rapid succession: Ian McHarg published his legendary book “Design with Nature” (April); the Cuyahoga River in Ohio caught fire (June); and Neil Armstrong landed on the moon (July). For many of our generation, these served as calls to action to improve where we live. Immediately, governments mobilized in response to public demand.

“The 1969 Cuyahoga River fire was quickly extinguished, but it sparked public outrage and prompted political action that led to the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency the following year. In April 1970, the first Earth Day was held. 1971 saw the creation of Environment Canada. The “decade of the environment” was well and truly launched. The world seemed on its way to becoming a better place.

“In 2019, will the record rate of melting of Greenland’s glaciers at the same time as the Amazon forest is burning be the ‘Cuyahoga River moment’ for Generations X, Y and Z?”

To Learn More:

Download Sustainable Service Delivery in a Changing Climate – A Moment of Reckoning! to read the article by Kim Stephens.

“On June 22, 1969, there hadn’t been any fish—or any other living things—in its waters for decades. On that day the river was burning,” wrote Tim Folger in an article for National Geographic Magazine. “It would turn out to be a cleansing fire, one that became a potent symbol for the nascent environmental movement. “