Sunday, February 03, 2013

Sustainability StackExchange

I participate in several question-and-answer sites on the StackExchange network. They just created a new site for "Sustainable Living", and opened it for a small private beta, which I luckily get to be a part of.

Someone asked "why did you join this site". I thought about it for a while, and wrote this:

I believe that the word "sustainable" has been terribly watered down, largely by marketing departments looking to cash in on our desire not destroy the planet. Too bad: the laws of nature don't respond to greenwashing. We need to take the true meaning of "sustainable" seriously, if we want to survive.
However, I am not satisfied with even full, true sustainability. Mere survival is not enough - I want a rich, joyful, connected life for all.
I believe the environmental movement has made a big mistake here, harping on the convergence of crises around us today. "Global warming! Poisoned atmosphere! Genetic mutation!" - it's so scary, it's no surprise that most people run away and hide in the safety of the life that is offered to them. That life of comfort, convenience, and safey is a natural refuge when we are bombarded by prophecies of doom.
I believe that a future of joy and connection with for all beings is compatible with "sustainability". We feel the pain of planetary destruction every day, and it leads to a lot of anxiety and misery in our lives as currently lived. Only a truly joyous lifestyle can be sustained!
I am particularly excited about new technologies that offer true sustainability in a way that conventional technologies cannot. A perfect example is Permaculture. It doesn't require great sacrifice; in fact it offers to heal the ecosystem while producing a wide vareity of delicious, nutritious foods, with minimal energy required - the opposite of what conventional agriculture offers. 
And yet nothing in Permaculture is new: it does not require a quad-core CPU or genetic engineering or a jet engine. We could have invented Permaculture a century earlier, but we weren't ready yet, as a species. 
Today I think we are becoming ready for these new technologies. We will turn waste streams in to inputs for other systems. We will people together with each other and with nature.
I hope that Sustainability.SE will be a conduit for sharing these ideas more broadly than we have before. 
That is why I have joined this site.

1 comment:

Jan Bosman said...

Well said. I've taken to using the word "Regenerative" instead, where appropriate. Sustainability is nice, but I like to strive for more. My goal in my love life is not to have a 'sustainable relationship', but to have a regenerative one.

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