On Sustainability with Katherine Richardson

What is sustainability and what can we do about it? There are so many questions around this, but here professor Katherine Richardson, Professor in Biological Oceanography, gives us a quick insight into how we could look at this topic, and how we can act.

Yeray Lopez
Yeray Lopez

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Hey there, fellow Earthlings! Let's talk about a word that's been thrown around so much lately that it's starting to lose its lustre: Sustainability. It's like the avocado toast of the corporate world – everyone wants a piece of it, but do they really know what it means?

It's easy to get lost in the sea of metrics, statistics, and fancy business jargon when discussing sustainability. But here's the thing: if we want to ensure a future for ourselves and the planet, we need to cut through the noise and get to the heart of what sustainability truly means.

Enter Katherine Richardson, a real-life sustainability superhero. She's a professor of biological oceanography at the University of Copenhagen and the former Chairman of the Danish Commission on Climate Change Policy. But more importantly, she's an incredible storyteller who can make even the most complex concepts accessible and engaging.

I recently had the privilege of diving deep into the world of sustainability with Katherine, and let me tell you, it was a game-changer. She helped me understand that sustainability isn't just about reducing our carbon footprint or using eco-friendly products (although those things are important, too!). It's about finding a way to live in harmony with the natural world, to ensure that we're not taking more than the Earth can give.

Katherine's insights reminded me that we all have a role to play in creating a sustainable future. Whether you're a business owner looking to reduce your environmental impact or an individual trying to make more conscious choices in your daily life, every action counts.

So, let's take a page from Katherine's book and start thinking about sustainability in a more holistic way. Let's look beyond the buzzwords and the greenwashing and focus on what really matters: creating a world where both people and the planet can thrive.

It's not always easy, and I'll be the first to admit that I don't have all the answers. But I believe we can make a real difference by learning from experts like Katherine, sharing our experiences, and supporting each other on this journey.

So, what do you say? Are you ready to join me in diving deeper into the world of sustainability? Let's explore the science, the stories, and the solutions together. Because when it comes to ensuring a brighter future for ourselves and the Earth.

A conversation with Katherine Richardson

Katherine Richardson's overall focus is to understand better the role of biological processes and biodiversity in the cycling of carbon in the upper ocean, and how this impacts food webs and climate change. Most of her research has been on marine plankton (primarily phytoplankton) and how these small beings act on a global stage.

If you are interested in planetary boundaries, climate warming, and the role of biodiversity in all this, check out her book "Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges, and Decisions".

On how we are changing the way of how we think about the rest of the planet.

Some highlights

  • We are changing the way we think about the rest of the planet.
  • The importance of equality between people, and resource allocation, will play a big role in how successful we are in relation to sustainable societies.
  • This is much more than energy efficiency.
  • The influence of younger players, Greta Thunberg.
  • “Sustainability is not a state; it is not something you come to, it is a process”
  • Earth’s natural resources are our real currency.
  • The perception of Earth overshoot day by “developed” nations.
  • Where do we start the discussion about what things we should change first to have an impact?

On translating resources into currency

I have always wondered what the missing piece is when it comes to communicating science. My father spent his working years looking at the stars, still within our household, and I did not figure out what he was doing until yesterday. This is how this second part of the conversation started.

Here Katherine Richardson, who is participating in the next global sustainable development report, talks about the importance of communicating who is using most resources, the key factors to account for in order to change our food systems, our energy systems, and economy, to move towards a sustainable future.

Some highlights

  • The four levers that have to be used in every case to change our systems.
  • Mental models that prevent change.
  • The built-in conflict of our own sustainability - SDGs and global resources.
  • How can we be optimistic when it looks as bad as it does?

On Plastics

"We've been throwing plastics since the 1950s, knowing it was non-degradable"—One and a half minutes of pure insight.

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Yeray Lopez Twitter

My focus is on creating content that entertains, enlightens and sparks dialogue.