Friday, March 21, 2008

Reason for hope

In little ways, there are signs that we may have turned a corner with environmentalism and might be ready to start focusing on creating new opportunities, adapting to change and otherwise sustaining human prosperity and, thus, the planet.

So while government agencies continue to recycle and peddle various forms of sustainababble, the mainstream media is increasingly reluctant to let contradictory data slip pass unreported. (Also see here).

The point with sustainability is that climate change is irrelevant.

Sustainability is an adaptive approach to the future: a future which we know will change and be different from today by definition. The challenge is to retain economic prosperity, increase people's accessibility to prosperity and foster increasingly civil societies in the process. Given the option and the capability, all people wish to have a healthy, safe and vibrant environment within which to live: but that environment can take many forms (urban, rural, wild) and the features that make the landscape attractive to people vary culturally and socially. There is not one formula for sustainability. Sustainability is context specific.

The world is going to change. Good. Not everything that exists today is worth retaining. But much is and each community has the potential to determine what aspects of its landscape it wants to sustain, where it can be improved and what needs to be replaced. The great challenge of sustainability is to facilitate the engagement of people in the determination of the adaptive strategies they can use to practically shape their future and the future they hand over to the next generation.

An initial step is to begin moving people beyond awareness and to a point where they can actively intercede for themselves in the process of change. Well, actually, I guess this will always be step two. Step one is making sure enough people have met their material needs for a community to have an awareness that it has a choice over its future.

The great failure of contemporary environmentalism is that it fails to recognize that economic development is fundamental to sustainability.

Sustainababble and the selective use of data do not empower individuals nor communities. Slowly but surely, this understanding is becoming more widespread.