Making the right climate choice in an ocean of possibilities

By Adam Bumpus


Have you ever had so much choice that you can't make a decision? Choice is only good if you have good information to help you make good decisions.

Having recently moved from Vancouver to Melbourne to take up a lectureship in environment and development, I've been experiencing this whilst looking for a home. Having just pipped Vancouver at the post in The Economist's latest 'most liveable city' rankings (we are telling ourselves we had little to do with that tipping those scales!), and in a rental market more competitive than London or Vancouver, means finding a place to live is, well, tricky. The hundreds of hits I get back from my web searches, is seemingly endless, but the information is them is often very limited, very exaggerated or very strange (ah, yes, I was looking for a "jazzy" front room, that is just the ticket, thank goodness they mentioned this). The websites also don't show what is happening in the background: who is the agent's favourite applicant? Who is the landlord likely to choose? How to those photos of the polished kitchen actually look like a 70's nightmare in real life? (perhaps its this artistic license). So we shortlisted, and visited, and back to our friends' comfortable, but very temporary spare-room, empty-handed. 

It comes down to this: endless choice without reliable information to make effective comparisons paralyses us. We can't choose to act in our best interests. And it's the same for for choosing our low carbon future in the products we buy. Increasingly, environmental labels are being used  to convey information but it's not always easy to see the 'noise' from the 'signal' (trust us, we have tried). This is precisely why we created greeenstar*. greeenstar* isn't a label: it is a rating system that takes highly complex carbon accounting, business processes and a range of hard data and distills it down into a best in class star rating. It provides clear information that allows consumers to make fast choices based on verified, transparent and rational analysis. So yes, we may talk a little too much about data sources, standardized protocols, comparing apples to apples, or emissions to emissions, or normalisers to normalisers, but we believe it is the only way we can make good decisions about our planetary carbon future. 

Finally, we did find a place, but it came through more luck, and a personable Scotsman real estate agent, than judgement. We can't leave the climate problem to luck. We live in a world of endless choices; lets start getting the information that allows us to make good ones both for the little things (like a home) and the big things (like climate change) in life. 

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