We are making this planet inhospitable to us; hotter, drier, more polluted, increased severe weather, drug-resistant super-diseases etc.; and when the planet can’t sustain us, we are the ones going away, not the planet. Not a very happy thought on World Environment Day, June 5, but one that needs to be honestly discussed. If you’re reading this, then it’s a safe assumption that you already are concerned about what we leave for whoever occupies the planet when we’re gone. So, what can we do about it?
Our predicament is not new. We have been discussing “sustainability” since before recorded history. “the idea of sustainability, wherever it occurs in the history, emerges in time of crisis and scarcity” (Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Carl_von_Carlowitz) As far back as 1713, Carl von Carlowitz created the term Nachhaltigkeit Nutzung (“Sustained use”)in reference to silviculture.
Humans have very I’m anthropocentric views of the natural resources and ecosystem services that support human life on the planet; we believe there ours to use indiscriminately. Everything we depend on, directly or indirectly comes from nature: air, water, soil, food, petroleum, minerals, and we use them unsustainably, but humans are at the heart of sustainability-we are both the problem and the solution: we cannot manage the environment or natural resources; we must manage the humans who exploit or interact with them.
The question remains: will we reduce resource use or are we looking for that elusive infinite energy or food source so we can continue to consume exponentially? And what about those who inspire to “first-world” levels of consumption? Aside from the billions who struggle just to survive on this planet, we have billions more whose every effort is geared towards living the opulent lifestyle of the rich and famous. Do we have enough “planet” for everyone’s desires?
By 2050 we will have to house, feed, clothe, and provide energy and clean water for 9.6 billion people.
For those of us who live in society is that can provide those things easily, does the plate of the other 8.6 billion affect us or do we in the silence of our hearts say, “Thank God we’re not them?” We will be long gone, but future generations well either praise or curse us. We must act now even though we knew the effects of those actions would be felt for another 50 or 100 years. We need long term policies, laws and commitments to sustainable development.
Consider this, even if we were to instantaneously stop emitting all greenhouse gases (GHGs) right now, we would still feel the effects of global warming and climate change 50 years. The climate effects of GHG’s take that long to be manifested; we are feeling the effects of GHGs emitted 50-60 years ago… and the GHGs we are churning out today won’t affect the planet’s inhabitants until around 2070.
How do we get global buy-in for what needs to be done? We need to make this an economic and financial problem instead of an environmental one. We must stop externalizing impacts and resource use. We must account for the value of Nature’s services. Consider this one example, New York City had a choice when their water sources were contaminated by human activities: either pay 6 billion to build a treatment plant and be a 300 million a year to maintain that plant OR restore the natural ecosystem services at the cost of 1 billion over 10 years–to do the same job.
If we make to pay for the ecosystem services and environmental goods that we know use freely then maybe, we would start using them wisely and taking care of them properly. Scientists alone can’t do this. Activities alone can’t do this. Economists alone can’t do this. Politicians alone can’t do this… you get my drift. We need everyone to emulate Nature, which has zero waste and a circular economy.
If we do not alter our patterns of production and consumption, we will exhaust the very things we need for our survival: food; air; water; energy; and we all will make the Earth very inhospitable to humans.
It’s very anthropocentric to think that we can save if the planet, or even that the planet needs us to save it. The planet will go on long after we make ourselves extinct.
In time we will be forced to pay the same price to preserve what remains as we would have paid to keep what we had.
David D. Ramjohn – Chief Executive Officer of AlgEternal Technologies, June 5, 2018
Source: The Fayette County Record