Sustainability

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Sustainability is a term, a concept, a whole melting pot of ideas and perceptions. It is generally understood to mean the "condition of meeting the needs of the present generation or situation, without jeopardizing the resources and needs of future generations".

In the Ecoreality vision and guidance documents, we define sustainability as achievement of social, economic and ecological balance within and between the ecovillage ecosystem and surrounding ecosystems. Specifically, we have the following goals for sustainability in our vision:

  1. energy (light, heat),
  2. closing as many of the looops of matter within the ecovillage as we can given our human, economic and ecological resources for doing so, (in a realistic manner considering our ecological setting - allowing for site characteristics, human skills and characteristics of the entire group - even if that changes moment to moment as we grow and develop)
  3. food systems and security,
  4. social and cultural systems,
  5. economic systems

Some people have made their life a practice of sustainable living, while others are interested in analysing what it means, how we are doing well or poorly, and helping others to see the reality of their actions.

One of the local Vancouverites who has made a profound impact on the global understanding of sustainable environment and economy, where the two are in balance and where they are contradicting themselves, is Dr. William Rees. He founded the University of British Columbia's School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP), in which there is an ‘Environment and Resource Planning’ concentration. Prof Rees’ teaching and research focus on the public policy and planning implications of global environmental trends and the necessary ecological conditions for sustainable socioeconomic development. Much of this work is in the realm of human ecology and ecological economics. Here is a very brief excerpt from 'Globalization and Sustainablility: Conflict or Convergence?' (Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society. Vol 22, No. 4. August 2002, 249-268 - Copyright Sage Publications, 2002) by Dr. Rees:

'Unsustainability is an old problem – human societies have collapsed with disturbing regularity throughout history. I argue that a genetic predisposition for unsustainability is encoded in certain human physiological, social and behavioural traits that once conferred survival value but are now maladaptive. A uniquely human capacity – indeed, necessity – for elaborate cultural myth-making reinforces these negative biological tendencies. Our contemporary, increasingly global myth, promotes a vision of world development centred on unlimited economic expansion fuelled by more liberalized trade. This myth is not only failing on its own terms but places humanity on a collision course with biophysical reality – our ecological footprint already exceeds the human carrying capacity of Earth. Sustainability requires that we acknowledge the primitive origins of human ecological dysfunction and seize conscious control of our collective destiny. The final triumph of enlightened reason and mutual compassion over scripted determinism would herald a whole new phase in human evolution.'

I just did the Ecological Footprint Quiz: here and I got the following result (Jan: added a column for Carol & Jan.) (added a column for the five of us living as we do at EcoReality Lite --Janemail 22:58, 28 May 2006 (PDT)):
CATEGORY GLOBAL HECTARES
J&S C&J EcoReality
FOOD 1.6 1.3 1.1
MOBILITY 1.6 0.1 0.1
SHELTER 1.5 4.2 1.0
GOODS/SERVICES 2.4 3.0 0.8
TOTAL FOOTPRINT 7.1 8.4 3.0
PLANETS NEEDED 3.9 4.8 1.7

THE AVERAGE ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT IN CANADA IS 8.8 GLOBAL HECTARES PER PERSON.

THE AVERAGE ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT IN THE US IS 9.6 GLOBAL HECTARES PER PERSON.

WORLDWIDE, THERE EXIST 1.8 BIOLOGICALLY PRODUCTIVE GLOBAL HECTARES PER PERSON.

IF EVERYONE LIVED LIKE SHANNON/JAMES, WE WOULD NEED 3.9 PLANETS!!

IF EVERYONE LIVED LIKE CAROL/JAN, WE WOULD NEED 4.8 PLANETS!!

IF EVERYONE LIVED LIKE S/J/S/C/J AT EcoReality, WE WOULD NEED 1.7 PLANETS!!

I'M COMMITTED TO TRANSFORMING MY ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT THROUGH BUILDING ECOREALITY!! Shan 12:43, 13 January 2006 (PST)

Me too! --Jan Steinman 17:57, 13 January 2006 (PST)

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