Some organizations, such as the Ecological Society of America, are starting to envision a sustainable society, one in which each generation inherits sufficient natural and economic resources and a relatively stable environment. The Worldwatch Institute estimates that to reach sustainability by 2030, we must begin shaping a sustainable society during the next 10 years or so. What might we do to work toward sustainability, and what are the major roadblocks to achieving it? How would your life be different in a sustainable society?
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1. What might we do to work toward sustainability, and what are the major roadblocks to achieving it?
People everywhere are devoting time and energy to questions of sustainability, but many would argue that we still lack consensus on alternatives to the limitless growth of material consumption. Indeed, with its high per-person use of energy and materials and its relentless commitment to growth, the U.S., as an example, is probably among the least sustainable of human societies. What it seems that we are missing is a shared vision of what "sustainability" entails for the U.S. Without a coherent, relatively detailed, shared vision of what a sustainable society would look like, we cannot generate the political will or united effort to sustain us in the future. This is a definite roadblock to change. (1) Therefore, we might decide on a common vision of sustainability:
As Donella Meadows has written, "Vision is necessary to the policy process. If we have not specified where we want to go, it is hard to set our compass, to muster enthusiasm, or to measure progress. But vision is not only generally missing from policy discussions; it is missing from our culture. We talk easily and endlessly about our frustrations, doubts, and complaints, but we speak only rarely and with difficulty about our dreams and values."(2)
An ever-increasing population of humans is influencing virtually all of nature on the planet Earth, according to Margaret Palmer, a professor at the University of Maryland. Palmer chaired a committee of the Ecological Society of America, in which scientists from many nations tried to envision what needs to happen over the next decade in regards to sustainability. Palmer and other ecologists are recognizing the profound impact human beings are having on the natural world (another roadblock). There are few relatively un-impacted watersheds today. Today, humans influence virtually all ecosystems; there's no such thing as a pure ecology. There are more than six billion humans on Earth now, and that number is growing.
This solution examines the following questions: What might we do to work toward sustainability, and what are the major roadblocks to achieving it? How would your life be different in a sustainable society? Supplemented with a highly informative article describing dimensions of a sustainable society/