One-day conference looks at the intersection of business, faith and personal ownership in sustainability

Climate change experts join forces to talk about sustainability in business and faith communities.

Jim2Jim McClintock, Ph.D.Signs of climate change in the United States are now evident far beyond the record-breaking wildfires in California and flooding rains in the Midwest. Human society has the knowledge, innovation and technology to make the planet more sustainable. Climate change professionals continue to bring awareness around everyday solutions for a more sustainable planet to business leaders and faith communities on a daily basis.

Jim McClintock, Ph.D., professor in University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Arts and Sciences, and Katherine Hayhoe, Ph.D., professor at Texas Tech, will speak on “Faith meets business: climate solutions for the common good” at the McWane Science Center Saturday, Feb. 8, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Business and faith leaders are invited to join the community dialogue on the climate crisis to explore effective solutions for a livable world. The event will host a panel featuring Bambi Ingram, interim director of UAB Sustainability, who will talk about sustainability strategies for the common good.

“Over the past decade, I have seen a growing interest in businesses and faith groups to increase awareness and take action when it comes to climate change,” said McClintock, an Antarctic researcher in the UAB Department of Biology. “We are seeing more and more businesses incorporate sustainable business practices, such as carbon neutrality, non-toxic dyes and more, to sustain their bottom line.”   

A more sustainable business plan

McClintock says reducing the use of the fossil fuels that produce greenhouse warming carbon dioxide can be accomplished in concert with the creation of more sustainable jobs and strong economic growth.  

McClintock has shared actionable sustainability talks with groups like the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, New York, where students can now pursue a minor in sustainability. This minor has made the students more marketable as they land jobs and help their employers become more sustainable. There is an explosion of new sustainable jobs on the horizon in renewable energy and many other related sectors of the global economy, providing opportunities for the next generation to prosper in their careers while saving our planet.

Even in states where progress in the renewable energy sector has been slow, there are signs of progress. Businesses in Alabama, such as Walmart and a private power utility company, are reducing their carbon footprint by developing plans for solar energy before constructing stores and homes.

Taking individual ownership

Make an individual impact by knowing how to recycle.

Becoming more sustainable is easily done with attention to everyday actions. Society can contribute to mitigating climate change by embracing a variety of sustainable practices. There are numerous ways to reduce an individual’s current carbon footprint, from energy-efficient building practices, hybrid and electric transportation, and solar and wind energy, which have now surpassed fossil fuel-generated energy in their affordability.

For a more sustainable planet, people can encourage banks to focus their lending practices on sustainable energy companies, and encouraging individuals to invest their retirement funds in environmentally sustainable mutual funds. Investment firms are responding to growing consumer demand in this respect, McClintock states. For example, BlackRock recently announced they are now offering investment portfolios that are made up of companies that are invested in Earth-sustainable practices and products. 

Faith and sustainability

“Interlocking climate change and biblical interpretation is important when discussing sustainability,” McClintock said. “We have seen a huge interest in the faith community in becoming more sustainable and embracing the changes that need to be made to save our planet.”

McClintock presents climate change science to faith leaders and congregations alongside his colleague that presents biblical interpretation on the care of creation. Leaders are using the information presented to spearhead the establishment of sustainability committees to make an impact in their community.  

Political support drives sustainability

Click here to learn more about UAB Sustainability’s strategic plan.

“Societal concern and demand are also driving political change,” McClintock said. “Increasingly, candidates in or for office on both sides of the aisle are announcing their position that enacting policies addressing climate change are both important and timely in a rapidly changing world.”

Supporting candidates who are proponents of sustainability is one of the most powerful tools individuals possess to instrument future societal change, suggests McClintock.

A healthier planet

In addition to a more sustainable planet, there are health benefits to having clean air. By focusing on how individuals can be more sustainable, we will see an increase in breathable air free from fossil-based pollutants and the smoke of more intensive forest fires rooted in longer droughts and higher temperatures.

“The solution to addressing climate change is hiding in plain sight,” McClintock said. “It is a simple matter of will. It is about laying our concerns and, increasingly, our children’s concerns to rest.”