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Monday, March 2, 2009

Sustainable Economic Development - Not The Next "Love" Movement

When talking to people who drag their feet on sustainability issues for various reasons, I find myself defending the tenets of liberalism and feeling trapped argumentatively trapped. How do you explain to someone who associates "renewable energy" with socialist dogma? How do you surmount someone's intellectual walls after you start talking about scientific breakthroughs and they blurt out "well I like my big SUV!"

I'm a liberal, I'm a "tree hugger" and I like vegetables and organic food, but in no way do any of those traits lessen my commitment to making a living for myself and pushing the limits on my perspectives of how the world works. I think the perspective of the sustainability movement is that the world's society, population and infrastructure have grown exponentially fast since the inception of industrial technology, but we have been fueled off of a limited resource. We a handful of finite sources of energy to fuel our progression and in the process of moving forward, we leave behind poison in the air, in the land and in the bodies of our children for generations to come. We're sophisticate enough to be aware of, and harness natural forces on our planet that are virtually (for all our intents and purposes) limitless in the amount of energy that they produce.

It's time to wake up. We've been burning dead dinosaur remains and fossilized plant matter for almost 200 years and we're getting sicker and less efficient as time goes on. There are some dangers to the human race that are beyond the limits of our intellect to control, but beyond natural disasters, there's no more sense in burning oil and coal than there is in provoking massive wars (somehow they're intertwined).

This is a shift of mind-frame for how people think about living and growing what's around them. Most physical laws indicate that there is a finite limit to absolutely everything, so the concept of sustainably having or doing anything is somewhat deceiving, but the real goal is to be more sustainable and think in terms of building upon and sustaining a level of growth rather than basing our lives and future legacy on something that we all know is going to run out much sooner than later.

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