- it is known
- a demand exists for it
- it is spatially delineated, and
- its development and production are economically viable.
- Limits do not exist. Long before we run out of any resource, technology will have supplanted that resource with something better, cheaper, more effective, more efficient. Resources become obsolete, they do not become extinct.
- Intergenerational equity is a fallacy. Because the rate of change of technology advances so rapidly (and the contemporary rate of change ever more rapidly than that of the past), we simply do not know what future generations will want or need as their resource base.
- Most appeals for conservation are unwarranted. Because there are no permanent resource scarcities, no resource limits and no intergenerational equity, all most conservation efforts do is deprive existing populations from the advantages that exist of contemporary use of the resource base.
- Much of sustainability is predicated upon the wrong questions. The defining construct of sustainability is change, and our adaptation to the changing dynamics of the future, not the preservation of existing conditions. Because this perspective is missed, sustainability is incorrectly framed from a stasist perspective of command and control, fear of limits and inequality, and the wrong questions are advocated as the defining characteristic for future policy. For example, climate change has begun to morph into a wider concern for alternative energy and a call for de-carbonisation of energy production. Yet, the central element of the most productive era of development and growth if the human condition in the past 200 years has been the provision of cheap, accessible power. Ergo, our guiding premise ought to be: "how do we develop more cheap power in more places in a decentralized, non-polluting manner?" The answer to that question beyond our lifetime, is not simply one of changing fuels, generating electricity with windmills or solar, replacing oil with propane or hydrogen, electric cars or hybrids. Does anyone seriously think we will be driving a Prius or any variant on one in 2111? No, what is needed is alternative means to produce energy: alternatives to mass produced, centralized electricity; alternatives to electricity, alternatives to the internal combustion engine, to the steam turbine. An alternative energy, not just an alternative fuel.
Look back to 1811. The world traveled by horse and buggy, by sail and was powered largely by water mill and coal. The full advent of steam power and the transformation of ocean travel and the development of the railways had yet to occur. Move on to 1911 and the advent of the internal combustion engine and the steam turbine, and the long-range transmission of electricity are about to underscore another full scale transformation leading to jet propulsion and nuclear power.
Technology has not slowed, it has continued to advance, become cheaper, smaller, more effective, more efficient and finally, more equitable under contemporary globalization. What will power the world in 100 years is unlikely to be oil, but just as with coal, we will not have run out of the stuff, just supplanted it with something more useful, more resourceful.
Recognition of the full implications of the construct "resources are not, they become" enables the mind to envisage the true potential for technological transformation of resources, the absence of limits and the empowerment of all to determine their future prosperity. It is a future that builds upon hope and a belief in the capacity for people to not only want to improve but to act on that desire through the constant innovation and creation of new technology.
Sustainability is not the suppression of change:
- Sustainability is the capacity of a system to engage in the complexities of continuous improvement consistent with deep values of human purpose. (Fullan)