The World Commission on Environment and Development defines a sustainable civilization as one “that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Heh? As a guide, we might consider carbon released into the atmosphere. The average carbon footprint world-wide is 4 tons per year. But the carbon footprint for the average American is 20 metric tons per year.
We have established a very sophisticated lifestyle that has a rather precarious relationship to the earth’s finite resources. And as the rest of the world emulates our lifestyle, we will realize how much influence we really have over others – and over our future.
Largely due to exponetial population growth, technological evolution, and economic globalization, humans are becoming the primary force in shaping the large-scale systems that ultimately ensure survival of the species. As a result, biological species are becoming extinct at an alarming rate! The very real possibility of human-induced climate destabilization needs even more extensive research.
The majority of computer simulation prediction models point to climate destabilization; significant changes in weather patterns due to increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and ambient temperature differential. Some models predict global warming, while some predict global cooling. Yet others look at historical data in an effort to justify whatever happens. It’s impossible not to notice that the debate shakes out politically with two primary “sides.”
We know that the oil companies (and the not-for-profit organizations they fund) have spent billions to convince us that the use of energy is not significant in the debate on climate change – but beyond that, it all could be considered conjecture.
Hey – energy efficiency just makes sense. Wasting anything these days does not make sense. Is energy efficiency enough? From my days working with the Performance Systems Contracting company, I can attest to the fact that most families can cut a third off their monthly energy bill if they are willing to invest in that – but often they just start thinking about getting a hot-tub or something; an individual response that’s so prevalent as to undermine community-level ventures and larger efforts as well.
We can also see the impact of these types of poor decisions in a deteriorating quaity of life world-wide. The 2009 food riots (when we started using corn to create ethanol), 2010 gulf oil spill, the 2011 Fukushima incident… Whatever’s next is just around the corner.
As an alternative, consider a Post-Modern Techno-Amish Society as a model for a sustainable future! That’s the point of this blog, but I do realize this is an idea that may be a couple thousand years ahead of it’s time…