Sustainability Part II – Nature’s Rights

Does sustainability mean anything in a business context, or is it just another overused catchword like prefixing all pronouncements with ‘Green’?  Our technical culture enables us to borrow from other times and places. This is often couched in weasel words; instead we should say what we mean and hold business and the state to the same benchmark. When we pollute:

  • build on food-growing land and move food away from where we live
  • burn fossil fuel or ‘rubbish’ and put carbon and toxins into the atmosphere
  • send stormwater to the sea where it causes algal blooms
oil road dunedin 759 96dpi
Vehicle to road to drain to stream to sea

and then allow these actions to be green-washed, these affronts become someone else’s problem; now and into the future. Conventional economics relies on this by treating  impacts beyond the here-and-now as externalities  – usually hard to price items not included in the bottom line, like a life-supporting atmosphere.  Valuing nature has a downside too, in that economists view ‘value’ as tradeable (a future post will look at a viable alternative – giving nature Personhood). This all seems a long way from landscape but …

camouflaging tire burning with tree waste b
Camouflaging tyre burning (black smoke at left) with white smoke of tree waste

we live on a finite planet – throwing things away is an oxymoron. Where is this ‘away’ anyway? This is what ‘away’ usually looks like:

Plastic softeners, 2300 AD here we come… Oh, and look at that pristine coastline!

To do more than just survive, humanity has to start living again on the land, becoming Local (from old French – ‘relating to a place’), even native to where we are, and growing into our neighborhoods. Smartphones, jet-travel and credit are useful things but they lead to a loss of living here and now, and experiencing life as the natural species we are.

Posted by Nigel, Growplan (2017)



4 thoughts on “Sustainability Part II – Nature’s Rights

Add yours

  1. I agree with what you write, Nigel. But apart from some obvious actions we should avoid, such as intentional and wanton pollution, most of us engage in everyday, detrimental activities, such as heating houses, driving cars, using cellphones, and flying in airlines. How do we balance what is good for the planet, with the comfort and luxury we have grown accustomed to?

    1. Well, I think it is likely we shall have some ‘balance’ forced upon us as scarce resources peak (e.g. oil and Phosphorus) and the life-supporting ability of Earth is diminished – warming aside an equally-troubling (and largely ignored) aspect is the depression of nutrition in plants (vitamins, minerals and protein). Better to get used to living more simply now and learn some real skills for the near future.

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