We assume that humans are fully evolved species, yet their very existance is
short when compared to the length of time it took Tyrannasaurus Rex and
compatriots to just demise, much less rise and evolve.
This does not argue for the wanton consumption of resources, though. Nor does it
deny the possibility that resources of a certain type, in our current
embodiment, are finite and that conservation should not be promoted.
What it argues for, in part, is the naive definitions of sustainability
promulgated by the Bruntland report which has promoted an extrapolist vision of
what future generations will be and what they will or should want and expect.
It argues for the fact that humans learn from mistakes and have the ability to
self correct because of their big brain. It argues against adopting a
Flagellante/Supplicante approach toward our current life-style.
Kimberly Stoner wrote:, in a small part:
> . After hearing a Swedish organic
> farmer (and president of the organic farming organization in Sweden) talk
> about how this movement has transformed the thinking about natural
> resources, energy, and environment in Sweden, I think The Natural Step
> deserves another look from the sustainable agriculture community here.
> ..... but here are the "Four Conditions" as far as I
> remember them:
> 1. Substances extracted from the earth's crust (e.g. fossil fuels, metals,
> other minerals) should not be extracted, dispersed, or used up at a faster
> rate than they are being deposited.
This is the Myth of time where cycles must coincide. It also does not
acknowledge that humans, with their big brain did, indeed, create problems, but
may create solutions which are substantively different from our current
understanding of how the system has existed in the past. We can not go back to
the future. We can not deny that the earth has had many catastrophic changes or
that humans, like fire ravaging a forest, may be playing a critical part in the
evolution of the planet and the larger system
> 2. Man-made substances should not be produced at a rate faster than they
> can be broken down and incorporated into living ecosystems.
On the other hand, Mother Nature does not follow this rule either
> 3. The quality of existing ecosystems should not be systematically degraded.
And the key here is the operational definition of "degrade". After all, what is
farming about but conversion of the ecosystem to human benefit. Is cutting down
forests and converting prairie to farms degrading the land? On the other hand,
is Mt. St. Helen's eruption not also creating degredation- Life is about birth,
growth, deterioration and conversion-
Was the environment degraded when the NGO's destroyed the malaria mosquito in
Africa which lead to a resultant population explosion with its devastating
consequences. Perhaps the Hipocratic oath which is human focused is denying the
natural cycle by saving lives and expanding the population
> 4. Existing resources should be used as efficiently and equitably as
The operational term is, of course, "equitably" and therein lies the key.
Equitable to whom, people, globally, or the microbes in the rain forest or the
termites eating the support beams in your house?
Sustainability is a philosophical issue and not an operational term either in
the bio/physical or socio/cultural sphere. It informs but can not prescribe
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