Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sustainability: The most abused term in the English language.

Guest Blogger Barry Fitzgerald, Ireland.

In 2010 it seems everyone has a "sustainable" product and a lot of businesses use the term to describe their operations. Government and institutional officials throw the term around like confetti. Everyone seems to think that just using the term makes them fit in with the new zeitgeist and new world order. After all the people want everything to be sustainable, right?

Unfortunately nearly every single use of this term in our world means one of two things;
a.) either we have to consume more to enable this so called sustainability or,
b.) we will have to work more and more in our lives to pay for this term.

If we are constantly buying products, this doesn't make the operation sustainable, even if there is no damage to the environment. And this is really the only criteria we use to measure the term sustainability, i.e. the impact on our environment. But sustainability should be so much more than that.

It should include us as human beings in the equation. Is it sustainable for us to continue to work so hard, so we can just purchase more and more goods, even if those self same goods earn their stripes as "clean" products. I contend that this is not sustainable. Similarly it is not sustainable for us to work longer and longer in our lives to pay for legislation and carbon taxes etc.. that are meant to bring us into line with environmental standards.

In all this we are missing a key component. It is only with increasing population levels that we can operate our current economic models, i.e. markets always getting bigger as population levels continue to rise. This has been the case for so long, but soon (within 6 decades) we will have a population peak. Thereafter what will we do? I mean how can we market, produce and sell "sustainable" products in an unsustainable market over the longer term. How can we tax and legislate the average Joe and Jane to excess, when again we live in an unsustainable market economy.

This is why our abuse of the term "sustainability" has to stop. We need to re-define this term so it can only be used when we ALL achieve equal access to the resources of the world, to allow us to have security in our lives from cradle to grave. Only then are we free of an unsustainable market economy. Only then can we work to a more humane schedule, e.g. an average of 4 hours per day. Only then will we truly come into line and only consume that which we truly need. Only then will we be able to realise that we can achieve self sufficiency in our localities. Only then can we lay claim to using the term sustainability.

Why?, because we have regained our individual power, aligned into strong local communities and "own up to owning" our path in life. We trust our ability to meet our needs in our lives and now we are sustainable. We don't need carbon taxes or low energy consuming products to fool us into thinking we are sustainable. You are sustainable when you trust your needs in life will be met, both today and tomorrow and all the days after tomorrow. Of course minimum damage to our environment should be (and can be) a minimum requirement.

That leaves the lingering question. How do we ALL get equal access to the resources of the world. Simple, it is time we demanded it from those who fool us into thinking we cannot have it!

Barry Fitzgerald’s book entitled “building cities of Gold” will be published late August 2010 by ATTM press. It is a book dedicated to showcasing how the building of local sustainable communities can bring major positive changes to our societies. From more information and to contact Barry visit his website,

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