Global Warming, Climate Accords, And Sustainable Furniture

In Blog, Climate Friendly Furniture by Amos Kober

Late last year we got excited about an historic event that affected the whole planet. Can you guess what it was? It’s near and dear to our hearts here at DCI. I’ll give you a hint.

We’re passionate about sustainability. As a company we’re always looking for ways to improve as a provider of green furniture.

That’s a small way that we can have a big impact and spread the values of sustainability to university campuses across America.

We also celebrate the moments when the larger We—meaning our global culture—takes a leap forward to embrace and support the health of the biosphere. And that’s exactly what happened in December 2015.

Have you figured it out yet?

Exactly! I’m talking about the historic climate accord we reached in Paris last December (2015).

But before we dive into that landmark agreement, let’s pause for a moment to take stock of our global predicament. What is the context for the Paris Climate Accord?

The Hottest Year(s) On Record

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), 2015 crushed all previous records in terms of the hottest year. They reported on their website that:

The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for 2015 was the highest among all years since record keeping began in 1880. During the final month, the December combined global land and ocean average surface temperature was the highest on record for any month in the 136-year record.

global warming and sustainability

The general consensus among climate scientists is that this is no fluke but rather the predictable result of a long-term warming trend caused by the release of greenhouse gasses—from humans—into the atmosphere.

And at the risk of sounding cliche, the consequences of this warming trend are dire. Writing in January 2016 about global warming for The New York Times, Justin Gillis outlines some of the current consequences of this trend.

And it bears repeating that we are now living in the future of rising global temperatures that many climate scientists were predicting in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Gillis writes:

 

The intense warmth of 2015 contributed to a heat wave in India last spring that turns out to have been the second-worst in that country’s history, killing an estimated 2,500 people. The long-term global warming trend has exacted a severe toll from extreme heat, with eight of the world’s 10 deadliest heat waves occurring since 1997.

And according to a recent article from Scientific American entitled 99 Percent Chance 2016 Will Be the Hottest Year on Record, 2016 is on track to surpass 2015 as the hottest year on record, erasing any residual doubt about global warming.

In fact, if this does happen, 2016 will be the third consecutive hottest year on record, surpassing record-setting temperatures in 2015 and 2014.

This was the urgent backdrop for the talks which led to the Paris Climate Accord.

Celebrating The Paris Climate Accord

And the delegates in Paris rose to the occasion. It was a landmark moment in the narrative of our human presence here on earth.

Why? For one thing, it marks the first time that representatives from every country joined together as one body in a singular gesture of stewardship for the planet.

The Paris Climate Accord was signed by 195 nations, and it was the first unanimous declaration to not only recognize the threat of climate change, but to make commitments to reverse it.

So what does this actually mean and what happened?

After decades of intense lobbying, negotiations, and global summits, leaders from around the world came together and successfully agreed on limits to greenhouse gas emissions.

According to BBC news, the 195 signees:

…will attempt to cut greenhouse gas emissions to a level that will limit the global average temperature to a rise “well below” 2C (3.6F) compared to pre-industrial levels – a level of warming deemed to be the point when dangerous climate change could threaten life on Earth.

The stakes were so high that several heads of state, including Presidents Obama, Putin, and Xi all showed up at the beginning of the negotiations to lend their weight to the event.

Those three names are especially important, and not just because they are heads of superpowers.

More importantly, two out of those three are the top contributors to greenhouse gas emissions: China is responsible for 24% of the total and the US comes in second with 12% of the total while Russia is sixth on the list contributing 5%.

Their presence in Paris demonstrated genuine concern and a sense of responsibility for the issue.

After the accord passed with a unanimous vote, President Obama called it the “best chance we have to save the one planet we have.”

Amazingly, every nation in the UN system agreed to the terms. A single abstention would have killed the deal.

Some of the scuttlebutt included reports that even Pope Francis was in on the action, leaning on one particular country behind the scenes that was ambivalent about committing.

What Paris Means For Sustainable Furniture

So what does the Paris Agreement mean for you and me and the rest of us in the residence hall furniture market?

It’s an important question, because this was an unequivocal referendum on the future of our planet. Level heads prevailed and privileged the community of life over national interests.

And as furniture manufacturers and residence hall procurement officials, you and I have an ethical responsibility to do the same.

The way we see it at DCI, it’s incumbent upon us to follow the leadership in Paris and produce and procure the most sustainable furniture possible. The delegates and heads of state did their part.

Now it’s our turn to grab the baton and run with it.

Support Paris And Buy Sustainable Furniture

This is important in both the short and the long-term.

In the short term, you can have an impact on climate change right now by choosing furniture that is manufactured with zero waste, minimal carbon footprint, no toxic byproducts, and is certified by the most advanced third party sustainability authorities like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

You can have a long-term impact by setting an example for your students and demonstrating sustainable values. Buying sustainably manufactured furniture for your residence halls sends a message to students that large institutions as well as individuals have a responsibility to “save the one planet we have.”

The administration at the University of California Riverside showed just this kind of leadership.

They were so excited about the sustainable pedigree of the Glen Mor line of furniture we created for them that they created a flyer for their students describing the green practices that went into building their furniture.

For our part, we will continuously strive to minimize our impact on the planet as we create quality furniture that meets the highest standards of sustainability.

To learn more about climate change and what you can do, check out The New York Times climate change guide Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change

You can also learn more about our green practices in each of the following categories:

  1. Solid Hardwood
  2. FSC Green Certification
  3. MAS Green Certification
  4. Sustainable Sourcing
  5. LEED Credits
  6. Sustainable Manufacturing

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To set up an order today or to talk with one of our representatives, you can write to us here or call: (800) 552-8286.

You can also learn more about our industry-leading FSC CoC certification, our MAS certification, and our green materials sourcing, sustainable manufacturing, and our unique zero waste Vertical Integration Process (VIP).

Download the DCI Sustainability Pledge here.

(Photos via Flickr CC: Kevin GillU.S. Department of StateTakver)