ML - Michigan Avenue

2015 - Issue 2 - Late Spring

Michigan Avenue - Niche Media - Michigan Avenue magazine is a luxury lifestyle magazine centered around Chicago’s finest people, events, fashion, health & beauty, fine dining & more!

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Page 103 of 139

PhotograPhy by XoNoVEtS When you see the abundance of food at the local supermarket—the bins of fruits and vegetables, the seafood on ice, the water bottles on the shelves—you may not always think about where it all comes from or what would happen if nature could no longer provide for us. Currently there are 7.3 billion people on the planet. According to a report by the United Nations, the world's population is expected to grow to 9.6 billion by the year 2050. Global demand for food, water, and energy is predicted to increase by 35 percent, 40 percent, and 50 percent, respectively, by 2030. This will further test nature's ability to provide for us, as will the expanding middle class around the world. The unprecedented consumption of critical natural resources poses enor- mous challenges for the entire planet. Some countries are already feeling the effects with depleted fisheries and diminished food stocks resulting from the inability of agricultural production to keep pace with demand. In recent years, more food was consumed around the world than was produced. The changing climate compounds these trends, as the increasing number and severity of storms (like Hurricane Sandy, which battered the East Coast in 2012), f loods, and droughts threaten global food and water supplies. Competition for increasingly scarce resources can lead to social and political instability, conf lict, radicalization, and possibly even failed nations. According to the US National Intelligence Council, "[resource] scarcities are likely to hit hard- est on poorer states, leading in the worst case to internal or interstate conf lict and spillover to regional destabilization." Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, the country's premier foreign-policy think tank, agrees. "Resources are linked to both the stability of countries and to the stability of regions," he says. Resource shortages and competition need to be on "the list of possible sources of friction or conf lict" and are "potentially a contributing cause of instability within countries and conceivably a source of instability between countries." But resource scarcity is not just a problem for other countries; it is also a threat to the United States' economic interests and national security. is there hope? Given the stress on nature's ability to provide for the growing population due to increasing demand and the serious impacts of the changing climate, are we doomed, or is there still hope? According to Peter Seligmann, a leading conservationist and the founder, chairman, and CEO of Conservation International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting nature for the well-being of people, there is reason to be hopeful. "Many governments, businesses, and local communities are realizing the importance of nature to the global economy, livelihoods, and security," he says. "They are not stand- ing on the sidelines watching as nature is depleted. They are engaging and taking actions to ensure nature is sustainable." Seligmann cites the example of Walmart, the world's largest retailer, which is leading the charge for sustainability among corporations with its three goals: to sell products that sustain both people and the environment, to create zero waste, and to run on 100 percent renewable energy. Due to its vast size, Walmart can have a significant impact on sustainability up and down its supply chain. "Walmart execu- tives see that their supplies of fish and food depend upon the health of ecosystems," Seligmann explains, "and they see that ecosystems are being stressed out by shifts in climate. That affects their supply. They're thinking long-term." According to Rob Walton, the company's chairman and the eldest son of Walmart founder Sam Walton, "For Walmart, it's about our responsibility as a business, but partly about how many of our sustainability efforts allow us to be more efficient and to continue to pass those savings on to our customers." Ensuring a sustainable supply chain so that its shelves are always fully stocked is critical to the company's business. If you've noticed a difference in the size of laundry detergent bottles in the last decade, you have Walmart to thank. The company has single-handedly driven the industry to embrace more eco-friendly packaging. And at Walmart's 2014 Sustainability Product Expo, it introduced an initiative challenging manufac- turers to reduce by 25 percent the amount of water in every dose of detergent in North America by 2018. Also announced at the Expo was a new initiative to increase recycling rates in the US by providing low-interest loans to municipali- ties for recycling projects. Increasingly, companies—including Disney, Starbucks, and Marriott—are real- izing that environmental sustainability is not only in their economic self-interest; it is also in the interest of their customers and the communities in which they operate. For example, The Walt Disney Company is implementing major changes designed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, improve its energy efficiency, reduce its water consumption, minimize waste, protect natural ecosystems, and inspire action on environmental health. The company is also funding a flagship project in the Peruvian Amazon to address the main causes of deforestation. Many are aware of Whole Foods' eco-friendly policies, which include support- ing sustainable agriculture and sound environmental practices. The company has also designed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED]- certified stores and initiated recycling programs, and it offsets 100 percent of its ake a look around and it becomes clear that nearly everything surrounding us—the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the butcher-block table in your kitchen, the paper used for this magazine—comes from nature. The simple truth is that humanity cannot survive without nature: for our food, fresh water, life- saving medicines, and so much more. 102

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