Posts Tagged ‘planetary sustainability’

For centuries, humanity has focused on what Paul Hawken called the Take-Make-Waste model. Take what Nature has created in our Biosphere. Make what you want without regard to being a good Steward and replant to grow future resources. And last, but worst, create Waste that is not recycled nor repurposed.

This practice has last for millennia. It has crossed almost all cultures. It has been practiced in agrarian, as well as, industrial societies.  It has occurred in Communist countries with little or no environmental regulations, to Capitalistic societies who often push back on environmental regulations.

But what has the been the cost? That varies from region to region. The sort answer is the loss of the Biosphere that may not be replicated or recovered from poor practices. In a changing world economy, all resources are precious. Can we still embrace the Take-Make-Waste model? Read what is an example in China: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141218081008.htm

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The Future Is Our Choice
The 21st century will be a century of change, transformation, new ideas and innovation, and discoveries that will enrich our society.  We have entered a new industrial revolution.  An industrial change that acknowledges our environment, our current generation’s needs, our need to revisit best practices, our business need to transform and prepare our legacy to meet the needs for succeeding generations.

We currently have, in place, a budding Sustainability industry that will continue to grow, mature and expand in the next 20 years. This is not a siloed approach,  but an integrated solution approach that is tailored to fit each organization’s needs.

Ray Anderson, an industrialists and sustainability pioneer, once said; “I also believe that it doesn’t happen quickly … it happens one mind at a time, one organization at a time, one building, one company, one community, one region, one new, clean technology, one industry, one supply chain at a time … until the entire industrial system has been transformed into a sustainable system, existing ethically in balance with Earth’s natural systems, upon which every living thing is utterly dependent.”

Ideas will come from man-kind and “nature” will show us the path.  We will see a dance between Technology and Science that will build our economies as nothing before.  and Technological arrays, will focus on issues resolution through the use of technology. From science, biological and “natural” views, will focus on how to restore our environment. It will continue to build on array and matrix foundations, which will holistically support industries, countries and the world in the transformation to a sustainable planet.

Technological arrays will interconnect technologies for remediation of Sustainability issues (i.e.,  Transportation, Traffic, Internet, Water Purification, etc.). Environmental matrices will produce biological and “natural” views will make solutions for converting waste to bio-nutrients for the purpose of environmental restoration. This is a long-term mending and nurturing strategy to restore our planet.
We also have that heritage reflected in what Theodore Roosevelt said over a century ago; “To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.” We are at a crossroad to decide what direction we want to go.  Should we continue with the current direction with a dismal future or we decide to take another route that eliminates waste, understands how the environment natures us, transforms our businesses, industries and countries into sustainable societies for future generations of mankind? We do have a choice.

The Choice Is Ours To Decide
In this century, business will be the true catalyst for pragmatic Sustainability transformation.  This is a systematic approach of eliminating waste, improve efficiency,  addressing customer needs, and recognizing corporate social responsibilities. Sustainability is a systemic framework to address economic, environmental, social and technological issues, to create a sustainable world and avoid declining ecosystems and the extinction of mankind as we know it. The business community has begun to implement Sustainability and has proven that change can indeed be profitable.

What do we need? The wisdom to recognize our changing world, the understanding of the actions we need to make, and knowledge that hesitation will only prolong the consequences of a poorly appreciated and abused  resource, Our Earth.

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English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The sky is falling, the sky is falling!”. True Sustainability does not rely on “the sky is falling”, rather it is based on information and data to give the existentialists a choice.  What does that mean? Each person, as a free and responsible agent, determines their own development through choices and decisions. What are we talking about? Understanding every decision we make can and often does impact our future.  Isolated choices for our needs often are not the best choices if we don’t consider its impact our planetary resources.

Mankind has avoided extinction, created by natural disasters, for over 2 million years. His fragile existence was almost eliminated during the last ice age, 50,000 years ago. However, more recently, the 20th century almost created an extinction scenario that would have permanently changed the complexion of our planet and perhaps ended mankind.

The 21st century will reveal whether our wisdom, understanding and leadership will preserve the existence of all life forms on this planet. Now, we are a population of 7 billion people. Demands for that population will continue to strain air, food, water and other resources in our lives.  We are living on a planet that has almost reached full capacity. By 2050, our planet will have a population of about10 billion people. Without recognizing planetary constraints, we may witness tragic declines or possible extinction of mankind within the next 100 years. The “tipping point” is indeed grave and it facing us today. What will our choices be?

20th Century Tragedy Avoided
In the 20th century we experienced three major events that were considered global in nature and involve the majority of the countries on this planet.  The first two events were called “world wars” and for logical reasons. These were global conflicts, pitting powerful alliances against each other. Both of these conflicts were significant and costly in terms of economic, environmental, and social aspects.

After the end of  World War II, the world was divided between Russia (and its “allies”) and the rest of the World. This third event, known as the Cold War, segmented along ideological lines and would exist for almost a half century. It was the confrontation of capitalism versus communism, West versus East, United States versus the Soviet Union (and Red China), and tested the mettle of diplomacy, military power, global intelligence, geopolitics, technology and the “wisdom” to know the difference.

The world almost ended with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Not since the Cold War, has humanity been faced with the possibility of human extinction. In the 1960s, aggressive Soviet diplomacy with the United States created an environment suitable for military conflict.  That event almost created a global catastrophe, a threshold for nuclear disaster, that would have completely changed the world as we know it today.

This was a circumstance of competition for domination (totalitarianism versus democracy), players were clearly defined, consequences to actions were also understood, and leadership of the two major countries dominated the governance of any geopolitical conflict. In the worst-case scenario, hundreds of millions of people would die in the first missile volley; air, food and water would be contaminated for most of the survivors; much of existing civil infrastructures would be destroyed, martial law would probably be implemented in all countries to corral civil panic, and surviving governments and businesses would face a bleak future.
But why did they need to act then?

Frankly, survivability of such a radical exchange of weapons was truly unknown although atomic bomb testing provided data to make “best guess estimates” and create military scenarios. MAD strategies were just that: “mutually assured destruction”. In that type of war, there are no winners, but measured degrees which side was damaged less. Decades later, both sides admitted that a nuclear exchange was almost inevitable as a conclusion to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Political leadership from both camps recognized the fragility and sensitivity that could be created from a global conflict.  Major players clearly understood the consequences of their actions, possible scenarios, and the need to manage potential threats or conflicts.

Modern societies exist today because of prudent decisions fifty years ago.  Leadership acted effectively to preserve our planet.  Missiles were moved, forces were de-escalated, diplomatic understandings were made and actions were made to ensure better communication between capitals. To summarize, this man-made situation was based on many key variables:

  1. Scope: total Global impact (threat to entire biosphere)
  2. Business: Involvement was limited or nonexistent
  3. Government: Driven primarily by Soviet and American policies
  4. Stakeholders: Consensus and allegiance solidified the Soviet and American camps
  5. Mitigation: Diplomacy, treaties, government trade and economic policies
  6. Result: Cooler heads prevailed and avoided a military conflict. Processes were adopted, understandings created, and similar events were mitigated or avoided in direct talks.

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Recycling Bin

Sustainability is based on the pulse of Environmental, Social and Economic areas or put in another context: Sustainability is focused on Planet, People and Profit. Each of us needs to change behavior, learn, and become more aware of how we impact the environment. Most people become involved by three progressive steps:

  • Natural curiosity is a catalyst, curiosity propels us to seek knowledge.
  • Being informed, individuals are then willing to experiment.
  • Engagement within the community and align individual values with other people and organizations that have a like mindset.

How do we become sustainable? Leaders of the 21st century will be responsible of planetary stewardship for our Earth. This means laying the foundation, which the entire Earth community is secure, managed, and prosperous.  Stewardship is based on these five key principles:

So, where can that behavior be focused? On a personal level, each of us can be responsible for Stewardship in our own lives. Here are examples:

  • conserve energy, food, and water,
  • reduce waste; decrease usage of plastic and paper by increasing usage of existing containers (i.e. mugs and glasses); use rechargeable batteries; drinking water and promote gray water
  • recycle daily waste, recycle old clothing, furniture, books,

We must have the will to Lead Smart, with a vision, and create endless opportunities through Sustainability. It’s never too late! Engage in your community. We can meet our needs today, and also create a future for generations can have their needs met, too. BUT we need to act now!”

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