The Butterfly Effect: Bumpier Flights and No Wine

If climate change stays the course, we’re looking at a future of bumpier flights and no wine. Which means that air travel is going to be decidedly more uncomfortable for anxious fliers and those folks who have to sit next to them. Start stockpiling your wine now, folks. 

In all seriousness, this news should turn heads in the travel or hospitality industry because if (and it’s an if) this future becomes a reality, then those industries will absolutely be feeling the heat, so to speak. The point is that we need to be thinking about the implications of a world with a rapidly changing environment that may impact the world we know. 

As the report from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on the future of wine production noted, not only will anywhere from 19 to 73% of wine country be unsuitable for wine production in the next 50 years, but the land that will be best for wine production are areas like Montana and parts of China. As Will Oremus writes in Slate, “Many of those new wine regions coincide with important habitat for species like the gray wolf, the pronghorn, the grizzly bear, and in China's case, the panda.”

The butterfly effect – recently more discussed in terms of sci-fi and fantasy than in regards to sustainability management – is perhaps taking on more relevance as relatively small changes are being found to have larger, more unexpected consequences. 

Wine production interfering with the habitat of the panda is a fairly unexpected consequence of climate change, in my opinion. But it’s not so far-fetched as to be declared impossible, either. This is where sustainability consultants come in:  one of the greatest contributions sustainability professionals can make to their organization is to help identify and qualify the myriad of potential outcomes and implications that result from climate change. 

It isn’t only industries, like wine, that so obviously rely upon the environment who need to think about a sustainability plan. As the 2012 “Going to Extremes” congressional report wrote, “Global warming has stacked the deck with extra jokers, making some weather events more frequent and severe” and has cost the country literally billions of dollars.  Until six months ago, the idea of a hurricane hitting New York City seemed incredibly far-fetched. But six months later, New York City residents are still feeling the impact of that monster storm. 

Sustainability consultants and marketers must be thinking outside the box when planning for the future of their organization. 

Let me know @Brigid_Milligan how you are thinking outside the box?

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