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GUEST COMMENTARY: Businesses need to be aware of climate

The author is a local freelance writer and editor of UpstateLIVE.com. This is part two of his article about the impact of climate change on our region. Part 1 ran in the June 18 edition.

Identifying the correlation economists draw between success and money, another area ecologist suggests another measure would help aid businesses with assessing the state of the environment.

“Success is measured in the amount of money we create, the amount of stuff we buy, production levels, but it doesn’t take into account the amount of ‘good’ that we are creating,” said Dr. Curt Gervich, an ecology professor at Plattsburgh State. “Our economic system doesn’t measure success through indicators that allow us to think about our impact on the Earth.”

Dr. Gervich teaches ecology at SUNY Plattsburgh. One of the lessons learned in his class is that of sustainable development. It’s a concept that dates back to the 1980s. As defined by the Brundtland Commission of the United Nations in 1987, it is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” He promotes an interactive learning environment for his students, such as introducing a fishing simulation where teams attempt to build a successful business. Students learn that if they fish too aggressively, they deplete the population.

In conjunction with sustainability, Dr. Gervich’s students also discuss the subject of adaptation.

“We can’t tell the future,” said Dr. Gervich, “so I talk about Climate Change Adaptation. How do we adapt to this changing climate. I talk about it in terms of creating resiliency. It’s the idea that we can adapt to change. Climate Change may just be one change that we need to adapt to. …Doesn’t matter if we talk about employment, climate, weather, terrorism, disease. The things that we would do are likely the same. So, I tend to not talk about climate as a singular issue to solve, it’s one in a mess of issues that we need to figure out [and] develop resilience to.”

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