Building a Sustainable model that is Economically Viable, and … neither socially contentious, nor environmentally catastrophic is like making Donald Trump an acceptable Republican Party Candidate.
These are the three, often conflicting components of Sustainability:
If we are to construct an integrated model of global or national sustainability, as we must if we are to survive on this planet or even elsewhere in the universe, we have to integrate these into each other so that the result is both positive and practical. Unquestionably, the resulting policy will have to be financially sustainable AND not damage the environment, as well as, be in accord with the principles of social justice as laid out by our new Pope ! or … as The Donald might say … BULL**IT !
One can easily imagine a set of conditions that would put all three in conflict. Let’s assume that we have a means to quantify a value for each of the three (no small task as we are discovering…) how then do we prioritized among them? As I wrestle with this conundrum, I’ve decided to put it to the Linkedin brain trust to see if others have addressed this issue and indeed to discover how together we might advance the holistic application of sustainability to humanities quest for homeostatic balance. Kinda like the challenge of integrating Donald Trump into the Republican Party !
In order to sustain life itself there is a requirement for economic sustainability. Living is an economy of nutritional and caloric input. This is necessary to run the basic systems of the body. The pump (heart) the chemical plant (kidneys and liver) the processing plant (stomach and digestive system) and even the trash facilities. It is your responsibility to maintain a sufficient level of input (food) by trading your output (work) for resources necessary to maintain the nutrition required for your body to function. If you don’t have sufficient numbers of calories, carbohydrates, and proteins, your system will eventually shut down and you, as an organism will simply cease to exist. You will die.
The above rather stark and simplistic analogy is, none-the-less an effective metaphor for any system: input/process/output …it’s how the world works. There are no perpetual motion machines using any branch of science we know about. This is especially true in commerce of course. An organization must acquire the resources sufficient to provide the necessary input to create the necessary output or it cannot and will not survive. The basic laws of nature do not support entities that consume and do not produce.
How then do we reconcile our humanity with the rather brutal laws of conservation of energy, survival of the fittest, supply and demand, and overall market forces. When you are a child, you are a non-productive consumer. Society permits this in most western cultures but in many eastern regions children are expected to contribute to the families larder at a very early age. How will we apportion resources in a resource constricted possible future as could likely develop given the prognostications of our scientific community … a potentially between 8 and 15 ft raise in the sea level in 50 years?
Mazlow taught us that survival is the basic drive of man. When the social upheaval that precedes the climate crisis hits, we will face very challenging obstacles and we will need all of our humanity and cultural experiences to surmount the urge to revert to our base instincts. We must learn sustainable behaviors or we may not survive the experience.? Can we overcome our penchant for individualism and independence necessary to survive in a drastically altered global climate? Will we, like some believe, revert to barbarism? Can we begin now to build the societal and cultural noms necessary? Is anyone giving this consideration? Help me out here? Hey, Donald …!?