Thursday, 28 June 2012
After Rio+20 we can now all celebrate the great success of defining a global state of non-sustainability. For over 20 years, people have been telling us that sustainability was too hard to define and an impossible state to achieve, but now we have not only managed to define a state of non-sustainability ... we have actually achieved it.
The leaders at Rio+20 who bothered to turn up all implicitly agreed that non-sustainability means to deliberately do something which cannot logically or practically continue indefinitely into the future. Non-sustainability means that no matter how much we would like it to be otherwise, the very thing we would like to do cannot continue without massive contradiction. As we consume or pollute the very thing we desire ... our ability to continue doing so diminishes with every act of consumption and pollution. In a world of finite resources and waste sinks, logic will ultimately rule over desire.
It clarifies the issue for everybody when leaders are presented with important data on indicators of non-sustainability and the finitude of this planet yet they then all agree to continue with business as usual. Such policy bravado is no better exemplified than with the amazingly successful global agreement to continue increasing our greenhouse gas emissions and massively change the world’s climate.
The Rio triumph is one where we ignore all the indicators and agree to continue to do the very things that achieve a state of non-sustainability. We not only agree to continue them, but also to ramp up the kind of economic growth that is the primary cause of the non-sustainable end state.
What our leaders have starkly demonstrated is that non-sustainability for the time being, is so much easier to achieve than sustainability. By failing to act, they have clearly defined what non-sustainability is for all of us.
Now, I wonder what sustainability means?