Friday, 10 October 2014

Sustaining The Dream Ain't So Easy Sometimes

Yesterday, I handed in my second assignment for my Masters in Sustainability. It was a painting project. Nawww.

I'm excited to be finally moving my career in a direction that I whole-heartedly want to go. So much that I am taking on extra-curricular sustainability stuff at work. I chat with the Nike girl two shops up about their sustainability program. I keep emailing my corporate head of sustainability in hopes that he will give up and give me his job (yep - really). He hasn't. But he knows I am next in line for the throne.

Unfortunately, what energizes me has also started to make me more and more depressed.

For instance: I was reading the prescribed literature for one of my subjects tonight when I had to stop. As much as I like to think that sustainability is mostly about saving the planet (cue sunshine and rainbows), it's bloody hard to read about how f*%cked up everything is all the time and still want to keep trying to fix it.

Here's the thing that really made me want to start my own planet. Every single measurement, or statistic, or data sample pertaining to environmental health in the literature I have to read is pretty bleak. We have not, as a species, managed to do anything at all to reverse the impact of our development on the planet. We have talked about it. We have studied it. We have decided that we should all do something about it. Bravo. But nothing we have done so far has come close to helping slow our ravenous consumption of natural resources. The rate of acceleration has slowed. So instead of accelerating at 100m per second per second, we are accelerating at about 80. Still accelerating. In the same direction. We are still getting faster, just not at the same rate as before. Need a link to refresh year 12 physics? Yeh, me too.

Basically, nothing is working. And since I was born, (1987 for those of you playing along at home), world leaders and academics and anyone vaguely interested in environmental science have known that, uh guys, we should really get cracking on this.

In March, 1987, I was born. In April, 1987, the UN released the ground breaking report Our Common Future, which contained the now most globally recognised definition of sustainable development.

Here's what sustainable development means to anyone studying sustainability:

"development that meets the needs of the present 
without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

The definition is deliberately vague, like most definitions that come from the UN are, however, we had an agreement on what any development should take in to account way back then. And yet, here I am, 27 and looking around at my world and I see, oh, a few solar panels here and there. A wind farm or two. Hell, we as a nation did a great job at turning up to the Kyoto Protocol meeting in Japan a while back (1997). We finally did what we said we would do 10 years later when we ratified it, but boy did we represent back in the nineties.  

I'm so freaking mad. I'm sick of being called a greenie. I'm a freaking survivalist and pragmatist. Sick of people being ignorant about consumption. Stop buying stuff they don't need to fulfil psychological needs that stuff won't fix. I'm sick of giving a damn about whether I ride my bike to work or not. As far as I can tell, my decisions are not making one iota of difference. 

Finally, I'm sick of reading about how climate change doesn't exist, or doesn't matter, or isn't man made. Fine, it doesn't exist. Let's pretend the planet's climate is just dandy. What would STILL be a reality, even without climate change and all that nasty stuff, is that we have not yet managed to find a way to sustain ourselves without decimating the planet. Essentially we are burning through all the stuff we need to stay alive as a species and grinning as we go. 

I feel like a mother telling her idiot teenage son to get in and clean his bedroom before it becomes a toxic waste dump.

I don't know what the answer is. 

Maybe castrate an entire generation to slow population growth? Maybe lobotomise the coal barons and their cronies? 

I'm open to creative suggestions.

There is no silver lining to this blog post folks. Unless you think that little old me, slogging away at uni assignments and drawing pictures of plants, will eventually evolve to become an omnipotent eco-warrior with mind control powers who will save us from ourselves. 

That would be the lining I would wish for.

Super hero in training

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