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Sunday, 5 January 2014

The Meaning of Sustainability

Over the Christmas period I saw a Tweet from Oxfam. It stated that the richest 1% hold more than 46% of the world’s wealth, and the poorest 90% have just 14%. This is not only unjust, but unsustainable, for the suffering inherent to this circumstance will surely lead to strife and conflict and provide further justification to the misguided and dangerous people who wage war on the western world through terrorism. And how does the west respond to this gratuitous violence? Answer: with more gratuitous violence as they seek to protect their vested interests and to maintain the status quo.

It is evident that our current economic system is failing in the sense that it has not provided the means of resolving global inequalities in the distribution of wealth. Socialist economic thinking has faired no better. Therefore we need to start considering how to change free market economies to achieve a global economy that does not perpetuate, as the present system does, these inequalities. And now is a good time to start thinking about this matter, given also that I have yet to encounter anyone who can rationally explain how the present growth and consumption driven free market system can be made environmentally sustainable. And the present economic system is also contribution to the fracturing of society, as it constantly seeks to encourage our animalistic tendencies to focus on material matters, often at the expense of that which truly matters: our inner wellbeing; relationships with the people in our lives that should matter most; and our wider sense of being part of a community.

Sustainability you see is about social, economic and environmental matters taken together as a whole, not in isolation. And how to do this in a world that works on the basis of fragmentation and reductionism is one of the greatest challenges of our time. And we are back once more to the great flaw in scientific, engineering and technological thinking, all of which are founded on fragmentation and reductionism. Here also, once more, is that thing I referred to in my 2013 blog entries – the Prometheus Syndrome which I will soon explain in more detail.

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