Friday, April 29, 2011

Experts' Opinions on Sustainability

What is the most pressing sustainability issue we need to address?

Jeffrey Davis –
I don't think one issue is more important than another. I think to quantify such issues will only succeed in alienating people who don't specifically care about those certain areas of sustainability. I think the most pressing issue is the one that matters most to each individual...because that is the issue they are most likely to take action on.

Brendan DeMelle
Climate change is the most pressing issue facing humanity. Right now we are spending down the planet's ecological capital with abandon, loading the burden of our joyride onto future generations. We must collectively kick our fossil fuel addiction and transition immediately to clean, renewable energy, and learn to use energy much more efficiently and wisely. 

Edward Hall (
           We have to address the lost efficiency between progressive efforts.  We can continue to "solve environmental problems" without looking at HOW we are solving those problems.  We have to problem solve problem solving!  It's a bit funny but once you look at efforts in sustainability it becomes obvious: the worst crime lies in the lost efficiency through lack of coordination.  LightSource, is all about that... Bringing projects together, providing the mindset, motivation, infrastructure and environment to get us working beyond these arbitrary boundaries that keep us from doing our best to solve serious problems and live fulfilled lives.
           I would also add, we must preserve and value diversity of cultural perspectives... This culture we have inherited is clearly off, and we have to learn from other cultures and peoples who are more in-sync with our planet.  We can't keep looking to technology to get us out of this mess... we have to really reexamine our cultural values and learn from other cultures.  I guarantee it will make us happier at the same time. 

Credit: TreeHugger
Consumption. Because it is the source of our free market desires that drives the crash-test ride we call “industrial and civilized society.”
I could pick on industrialization but that would just be more unnecessary gripe and moan; and I don’t think we could stop the progress of industrialization without addressing our fundamental consuming patterns so the attempt would be futile; I could go on and discuss the backward sense of “civilization” we experience so distant from our original distinct connection with Earth, but then I would look like some kind of cultural fanatic. Either one is not worth the discussion because they both focuses on the past; they are topics about what has gone wrong, not about what we can do to make things right.
What we can do to make things right is a hard thing to pick on because it is a deeply ingrained social norm protected by our collective sense of denial. It is our palpable overt desire to consume that drives our demand for oil, plastic, cheap meats, chemically fed giant broccoli, and diabetic babies. Yet there is an eerie sense of social stigma against those who would dare to say: “consume less,” and it is thus left unsaid.
Talking about consumption requires an admission of guilt: I too over consume and am part of the perpetuated problem to our Sustainability Crisis. I own many gadgets that hardly justify their existence. I consume and waste more water than a village in China. I use electricity generated by coal freely while I sit on my high and mighty horse and preach. I am in denial because I don’t know a way out of my conditioned pattern of behavior: buy more stuff, love more gadgets, enjoy daily showers, and plug more things into the walls . . .  
Well, they say the first step is to admit the guilt and come out of denial. What is the next step? Why can’t life come with instructions?

More ecological – and less – consumerism:
       Many of us are not aware of the social and environmental impact of the things we buy. Products are not made to last. Foods that are not in season are imported from other parts of the country or from abroad. We are wasteful.
We must learn to make do with less.
       Daniel Goleman, author of “Ecological Intelligence”, does not hold much hope: "We need a profound change of attitude. We need to stop thinking/speaking about the Earth being in need of healing. It doesn’t need healing. We do.”
       Here is one example of a product, which has a significant ecological impact: “strawberries in winter” (a European perspective).
      Strawberries: Between mid-February and mid-April, France imports 90,000 tons of strawberries from Spain. These are transported 500 kilometers to markets in France. The strawberries are grown in vitro in central Spain then trucked south to Andalusia for planting in soil sterilized with chloropicrin which Saddam Hussein’s regime used to gas the population in Kurdistan. Plants are grown on black plastic and require large quantities of fertilizer, pesticides, fungicides. Irrigation of the fields is drying up the surrounding area. After harvest, the 5,000 tons of plastic used to cultivate the strawberries is either dispersed by the wind or burned. Most of the strawberries are grown near a delta area, which is a main reserve for migratory birds. Workers, mostly foreign women, live in unhealthy conditions and suffer from respiratory diseases and skin infections.

Jessica Reeder (

Shane Shirley-Smith (
I believe that the most pressing sustainability issue that needs to be addressed is the health and well being of human beings.  Our health is our future right?  From green chemistry, healthier school lunches for kids,  warning labels on items with artificial colors and everything in between from vaccines to PFOA’s, we must insure health for our future sustainability. 
             What we are leaving for our future generations politically, financially and environmentally are intertwined and will prove to have an enormous impact on a healthy future. Keep listening, learning, and sharing all you can to protect your health, the health of our environment and the health of future generations.
             Our future depends on our knowledge and actions, what choices will you make today that will change your health and the health of our world tomorrow?  Together we CAN find the path that leads us to a greener, healthier future - we must act now individually, politically and collectively.
Please take a moment to watch this wake up story

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