Last week Australia saw one of, if not its biggest climate change rally in history. Across the country, thousands of people rallied for a world that replaces cars with public transport, processed foods for organic produce and paper coffee cups for BPA Free eco cups.

However in the fight against climate change, there are two ways to establishing a Greener world that many seem to forget about: diet and exercise.

This is the opinion of Phillip Mills, CEO of New Zealand fitness company Les Mills International and founder of Green business lobby group Pure Advantage. In his book, ‘Fighting Globesity - A Practical Guide to Personal Health and Sustainability’, penned with his wife Dr. Jackie Mills MD, Chief Creative Officer at Les Mills International, a specialist in nutritional medicine and the person responsible for the development of all Les Mills workouts, working out and sticking to a low carb, all organic diet could help save the planet.

According to Mills’ theory of ‘globesity’, opting for healthy foods typically means consuming goods that do not require as much processing, which in turn produces less pollution. After all, it takes less materials and machines to produce organic nuts than processed ham.

Secondly, if more people increased resistance training, improved their mobility and kept their body fat within healthy ranges, there would be a decrease in demand for healthcare. This means there is less of a need to drain the world’s resources on expensive knee replacement surgeries, liposuctions or diabetic treatments.

When Phillip Mills is asked if the planet has worsened since the book’s publication in 2007, he goes straight to the point with his response:

“I would say things have gotten worse since 2007. The biggest health problems today (obesity, cancer, pollution) are caused by preventable lifestyle choices,” he says, explaining that if the intake of sugary sodas are reduced, and more people started training, rates of disease and demand for healthcare would plummet. It's no surprise then that he believes more emphasis needs to be placed on sugar taxing and biological farming.

This connection between living healthily and a sustainable planet links back to the “Diseases of Affluence” concept, whereby rising income decreases society’s wealth as people spend more on the unnecessary, whilst neglecting physical activity and mindful eating. Mills believes this is a serious problem that has taken the environment to where it is now.

How these products are marketed is also a cause for concern. Referring to Coca-Cola’s recent endeavour to pay for research, he bluntly states: “Coca-Cola funded research has got to go.”

Mills is also against genetically modified foods: “They’re very bad for health.. Biological farming is what we need.”

Given the steady demand for and consumption of organic foods - IBISWorld anticipated an annual revenue growth of 11.1 percent for the organic food industry over five years through 2014-15 - and the depleting shares of Coke, there is a chance Mill’s wishes could come true. However, he notes that advances in technology and growing interest in health will mean little if the global average temperature rises two degrees, as predicted by scientists.

According to a 2015 paper by the International Committee for Climate Change, a mere two degrees rise in temperatures can lead to many problems. Crop yields will decrease globally, sea levels will rise and eventually threaten freshwater supplies, and extreme weather events will become common.

“If it wasn’t for the Montreal Protocol, going outside would be a hazard,” Mills quips. The Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987 to reduce the use and production of materials that deplete the ozone layer.

To combat these climate change effects, Les Mills International has sought to champion fitness and healthy living as one of the ways to save the planet. The company even published a white paper in 2009 titled ‘The Future of Fitness’, which provides “new insights to help the fitness industry:

• understand what may happen, so as to guide future decisions

• address risks, rise to challenges and discover opportunities beyond today’s known channels and paradigms.”

The paper highlights five fitness niches that will exist in the future, including training the obese, educating people, and exer-gaming (exercise-gaming) applications such as Wii Sports. Point number five, “Beyond Human Activity (post-2030)”, states:

“In an ‘earth system changes’ scenario, humans must adapt to more extreme climates – hotter, colder, wetter or drier than today. These extremes may restrict the ability to consume the fitness activities we enjoy today, and might lead to new activities becoming widespread”.

Despite the pro-green, luddite aura Mills appears to emit, he makes it clear that he is “not a complete Hippie.”

With great faith in modern medicine, biological farming, and indeed capitalism, Mills is a firm believer in green capitalism and thinks that competition can be used to create incentives to produce more sustainable technologies.

“I am a businessman…Capitalism in its true form does not have much to answer for, but what we have today is a corrupted version,” the Auckland-born former Olympic athlete says.

“Total deregulation has never been part of capitalism… deregulation has just been pushed by people who want to skew the system.”

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