Sustainability, Science, The Pomp of Man.

” IF YOU DONE IT IT AIN’T BRAGGIN “    – Walt Whitman –

Often times I am invited into conversations about the type of topics listed in the subject of this thread. More often than not it brings me an extreme challenge because many well-meaning people approach me as if these issues are new, never before discussed topics. Equally frustrating is the belief that we are just now discovering new things about our environment, climate and very human existence. At times it frustrates me because decades before most of this modern conversation and research began, me and many of my colleagues were already engaged in minimizing waste, reusing resources, developing cleaner processes all over the world. After having placed technology within industry to achieve these things, it is often maddening to be faced with scientific discussions, ramrodded largely by a non-scientific public, that demands people like me to abandon what is already known and proven, in favor of what is  popular.

Sustainability is an interesting topic. When we speak of sustainability there is a very critical question to ask and that is; “What sustainability are  we talking about?”

If we are speaking of the sustainability of the planet, resources, and man, that is one topic. If we are speaking of the sustainability of our current way of life, that is a totally different topic and it is the main source of confusion. It is the topic that brings pomp and man’s self-importance into the conversation. At that point, it honestly becomes what I call an exercise in mental masturbation. Let’s touch on the sustainability of our lifestyle first, because it is most easily put into proper perspective.

If our concern of sustainability centers around being able to drive our vehicles, enjoy our hobbies, foods, vacation spots, cruises, bars, restaurants and general way of life, then yes, we are engaging in nonsense. The life and conveniences we have created for ourselves were done so by  our choice and not by the Earth’s doing. These things were created over decades of ever-changing conditions of discovery, resources, technology, population density and infrastructure capabilities. The planet has no obligation to let us keep living the way we are living now. You see, all the conditions we have capitalized on to create our current lifestyle, over the decades, simply do not exist in the same manner today. Accordingly, our lifestyle choices shall indeed change whether we like it or not. The problem I have with a lot of these discussions are that we are trying to forge sustainability talks into the lifestyle that we, in our pomp, believe that we deserve and should expect.

I am hear to tell you that our lifestyle 100 years from now is going to look very different from what it looks like today. Perhaps will live live a much more secluded, natural, pastoral life; one with far less travel and international commerce. Future population may be in constant decline, and manufacturing may become far more regional, even community driven. I believe it is the mark of individuals who do not understand science and our planet to believe that maintaining our current lifestyle is an integral part of finding sustainable answers. Have we started planning for how our urban design and expectations will change? I don’t think we have.

Let’s shift now to the issue of sustainability of our resources, our planet and man himself. Science has demonstrated long ago that man cannot destroy the planet. He cannot deplete the Earths resources, and he most certainly cannot destroy himself. A simple tenet of the Laws of the Bios demonstrate this for us. Here is a closer look.

Each year man spends billion of dollars on insecticides. Farmers spray poisons to kill pests. You and I buy repellents, spray our plants, grass and even pets. Our communities spray for mosquitoes. With all that chemical poison, do you want to guess what the overall impact on long-term insect population is? Go ahead, guess. How much does all this poison affect insects overall?

Insecticides have absolutely no affect on the long-term population of insects.

How can this be? The answer is simple. Once you thin insect population with poison, you also eliminate competition for food, water and re-population. Once the poison is stopped, once the rains and winds come, the insects that lived, blessed with plentiful food and no competition come roaring back stronger than ever. Think about it! Who among us has not proclaimed; “The bugs are really bad this year?” So too, are the poisons of man incapable of eliminating him.

Resource depletion? Also a scientifically incorrect assumption. There is exactly the same amount of minerals, chemicals, water and every other resource now as there was at the dawn of the Earth. We have dug a lot of it up, converted it and spread it all over the world, but man has the same exact amount of resources as he always has. Fossil fuels will never come back? Balderdash! Of course they will. Not in our time, but I have a news flash for you, fossil fuels were formed over many, many years. The same science that converted plant and carcass carbon into oil in ancient times is still in action as we speak. Fossil fuels are indeed renewable and sustainable. Just not in our lifetime, But you you see, this is the pomp that I speak of. We want sustainability, but we only are willing to consider it in our time. We ought to be thinking about the planet and man, centuries from now. What can we do to guide them to see what we have learned? To me, our concept of sustainability is selfish and myopic. We are not thinking long-term.

Make no mistake, I am a leading voice for reusing materials, for conservation, and for taking care of our planet. However, until man understands what is and what is not sustainable, we will continue to act like chickens with our heads cut off.