There are certain boundaries we shouldn't cross to keep our world sustainable. Scientists dub it the Sustainability Doughnut. At our current state we already passed a couple of these boundaries. Some of which being Climate Change and Freshwater Use. Scientists believe that all 9 of these listed below are essential for human survival.
1. Climate Change - The most popular controversy out there. Some believe that it's a problem and some don't. I think it should be fixed.
2. Freshwater use - People don't understand how much water we actually have in the world. How much drinkable fresh water we have.
3. Chemical Pollution - This is any kind of pollution from vehicles polluting the earth with carbon, to drowning the ocean in nitrogen.
4. Land System Change - We're using up too much land on agriculture.
5. Ocean acidification - The increase of carbon dioxide is making the oceans more acidic.
6. Biogeochemical Loading - The 5 cycles, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and the water cycle needs to act in equilibrium.
7. Biodiversity laws - We need variety of life in our world. The world isn't made to survive the way humans are living right now.
8. Atmospheric Aerosol loading - Aerosols can affect cloud formation and patterns.
9. Ozone deletion - Ozone destroying chemicals were banned in 1987, preventing anyone from damaging the precious layer.
There's debate on whether we're in the Holocene or the Anthropocene. There's a lot of evidence pointing to the direction of the Anthropocene, because we are in a stage where our human actions are affecting the environment worthy or a new era. We used to be hunters and gatherers, where we moved wherever out food moved, then we discovered agriculture and the act of farming and staying in one place. This made humans change the land itself. In the 1700s to 1800s we discovered fossil fuels and that was the initial stage of the Anthropocene. After World War 2 in 1950, we started to develop everything and that's when everything rose. The Greenhouse gases, the transportation, the communication, infrastructure and everything. I agree that we're currently living in the Anthropocene because of all the significant changes we humans caused on this planet. In the TED talk, he mentioned how every change in an era happened because of a biological difference, and I completely agree. The dinosaurs' death ended an era and humans going from hunters and gatherers to farmers also changed that, now we're in an even different era where our presence causes a lot of damage on our planet.
Resilience is the ability to experience shocks and still be functional, so a society that can be damaged and still be able to come back has some differences from sustainability. While Resilience is all about coming back, sustainability is about never getting into that position. Sustainability is about figuring out our current problems and solving it so that we never have to get in a situation where we collapse. Sustainability predicts what will happen in the future and creates measures to prevent things from happening. Such as global warming and climate change. Instead of facing the inevitable and coming back from it like Resilience does, Sustainability never wants to face the facts and wants to prevent it. Charles Redman said that to be sustainable, we have to be resilient. That means we need to be able to face to change, to be motivated to make the change. The idea of Sustainability and Resilience are pretty different and get used in many different areas, but they both have a common concept of saving society from disaster. In our current stages, I think resilience is the way to go, because proven by scientists, even planting thousands of more trees won’t even leave a dent in the carbon emissions caused by humans. We are too late in the game to stop it, so instead of trying to prevent it from happening, we need to face our failures and suffer the consequences for humans to actually do something. In conclusion, we need to understand that we were polluting our world for so long, climate change and global warming is inevitable, and we need to understand that.
I read the article "What is Sustainability?" by Richard Heinberg. The basics of the Article was that there are 5 Axioms of sustainability.
The Five Axioms of Sustainability
The First: Any society that continues to use critical resources unsustainably will collapse.
Critical resources are resources that are essential to the maintenance of life like water and ones necessary to produce food and usable energy. Not using these critical resources necessary for human survival wisely is what can cause a society to collapse.
The Second: Population growth and/or growth in the rates of consumption of resources cannot be sustained.
Human population growth has been sustained until now, but simple arithmetic can be used to show that even small growth can add up dramatically, and consumption of resources add up until our limited resources aren’t enough to provide for billions of people.
The Third: To be sustainable, the use of renewable resources must proceed at a rate that is less than or equal to the rate of natural replenishment.
To be sustainable, people should be using resources that they have. If people are using more wood than they can cut in the same period of time, it isn’t sustainable and will run out eventually.
The Fourth: To be sustainable, the use of nonrenewable resources must proceed at the rate that is declining, and the rate of decline must be greater than or equal to the rate of depletion.
If the rate of use is declining faster than the rate of depletion then it means we are decreasing our dependence on the resource and will eventually become sustainable.
The Fifth: Sustainability requires that substances introduced into the environment from human activities be minimized and rendered harmless to biosphere functions.
If the 2nd, 3rd and 4th axioms are followed the chance of pollution entering the atmosphere is reduced, but it still requires humans to minimize the amount of pollution and substances released into the environment to reduce chances of collapse.
My take on this:
I believe everything here to be true. Our current society is struggling to understand the consequences of what we're doing to our environment. The article talked about the 5 axioms being flexible and the basics is that to be sustainable, we have to acknowledge the fact that we are destroying our environment and we need to make changes if we want to keep our world livable.
In A Glimpse out the Window by Ruth DeFries, Gregory P. Asner, and Jonathan Foley, it talked about trends seen today about sustainability. The three trends were Societal , Demographic and Health and Energy Transitions.
The Societal transitions reflected on where people live, where they get their food and resources. It showed how although Industrialized Countries produce the least amount, they have the highest per capita food supply and have the most amount of tractors per 1000 people.
The Demographic Transition is the “process of moving from small slow growing populations with high mortality and high fertility to large slow growing populations with low mortality and low fertility rates".
The last are the Health and Energy Transitions. It was the shift from infectious and deficiency diseases to non-infectious and sufficiency diseases like obesity and coronary diseases. And as the income increases, the more energy people require. Poor households depend on wood, dung and agricultural residue, while the rich prefer more fossil fuels and modern fuels such as electricity and nuclear energy.
The overall trend was how as Income/Wealth increases, People go from Wild-lands, collecting food, high fertility, high mortality infectious diseases, to Intensive agriculture, low fertility low mortality non-communicable diseases and modern fuels .
In Conclusion Land patterns can reflect advantages in certain situations, but the range of environmental consequences from individual land use decisions are hard to predict and aren’t considered. Every time someone plants food, puts a building beam, cuts a tree branch, the environment suffers the consequences and eventually the world.