There is a great deal of lip service being paid to “Sustainability” and “Green” these days, primarily coming from for-profit industries and governments … none of whom have a very stellar record in actual matters of sustainable development.
While efforts have certainly been undertaken, ostensibly for the sake of matters of sustainability, most of these end up being very little other than clever marketing tools designed to increase sales or campaign donations, or otherwise to directly benefit a very small, select group of individuals.
The fact of the matter is that current efforts for sustainable development are imperative for the survival of the human species, but if there is any real change to be made, it must come from the private sector and the people. But how?
What is Sustainability? Sustainability is perhaps best defined as the ability of the generation today, to provide for their basic wants and needs, without impeding or otherwise preventing the ability of future generations to do the same.
It seems that most of the “green” marketing and boasts about “sustainability” come from the marketing arms of corporations and politicians, most notably during election season. How focused are they however, on sustainability?
It is true that government does regulate the marketing and advertising enough to ensure that such claims being made are by and large very true, so where is the problem?
It also seems, that given the fact that the United States has decreased Carbon Dioxide output more than any other nation in the world, that despite the failed Kyoto Protocols and the move away from the more recent Paris Accord, that government has certainly made some progress in the realm of Sustainability.
One of the primary areas of concern is that Sustainability is a complex, systemic issue, wherein most of the “solutions” focus on singular areas, often at the cost of other areas that also need to be addressed. In short, singular solutions to complex systemic problems will never be capable of solving the actual problem.
These solutions are more akin to placing the proverbial band-aid over the proverbial bullet hole in reality.
While they may temporarily alleviate individual symptoms, they do very little to address the underlying causes. Perhaps worse still, while some of these programs may be singularly sustainable in nature and design, they often exacerbate other areas of concern wherein sustainability is also a requisite for the continued benefit of all humanity and the planet itself.
Singular Solutions for Complex Problems Life, like mathematics, is full of ever-changing variables. While these variables may not always be clearly defined, they must be fully quantified in order to allow for the solution to be meaningful in nature. Singularly sustainable solutions are frequently unsustainable in other pertinent and necessary areas, and far too frequently, only serve to make matters worse from a complete systemic perspective.
Singular solutions are by definition, rather simplistic in nature. Complex and Systemic problems and concerns require complex and systemic solutions … at least if those solutions are meant to be truly effective. This is amply evidenced in the ongoing efforts of far too many charitable and environmental organizations.
While their ongoing efforts are certainly laudable and merit both praise and support, they are in fact, in the larger scheme of things, both unsustainable and largely ineffective.
Because they attempt to cure the symptoms while ignoring the underlying causes in a great many cases, and at the same time, present singularly sustainable solutions that are not systemically sustainable and require constant subsidization in other areas wherein they lack overall sustainability.
In the case of many of these organizations, the results are such that their ability to provide actual and meaningful assistance in one area that demands sustainable solutions, often requires a great deal of the provided resources to be routed to other areas.
This is most easily seen in the fact that many large, charitable organizations use anywhere from seventy to ninety percent of all donations for “administrative fees”, largely to pay salaries for their professional staff and … ironically perhaps, the vast majority of their donations are continually expended in an effort to solicit further donations.
The cycle becomes problematic when only ten to thirty percent of all donations are used for their intended purpose … but what is the solution?
Whole System ( or Systemic ) Sustainability
There are three primary components that are imperative to plan, design and implement to be sustainable in nature for anything to be considered truly sustainable.
Economic (and/or Financial ) Sustainability, Environmental Sustainability and Social Sustainability are all imperative if the solutions put into place are going to be long-term and effective.
Anything less than this on the best of days will not serve to resolve the underlying issues. In the worst-case scenarios, such singular solutions as are lacking these elements will serve only to exacerbate the underlying causes. Such partial solutions that egregiously aggravate other areas of development, lead to the perpetuation or even expansion of the underlying problems, hurting humanity as a whole far more than it will ever be able to aid and assist.
What is Whole System or Systemic Sustainability? The three primary components to reach a Systemic level of Sustainability are Economic (and Financial) Sustainability Environmental Sustainability Social (or Sociological) Sustainability Collectively, these components or subsets of the system, consist of everything that is needed in order to generate a whole or complete system that is fully symbiotic in nature. This allows for the individual subsets of the system each to be sustainable in their own rights, but also supportive of the overall system at the same time.
The Nature of Whole System (or Systemic) Sustainability is such that it is a fully symbiotic system, each subset being wholly sustainable as an individual unit, while at the same time allowing each and all of the individual subsets to work jointly to support the system as a whole.
This prevents the need to expend precious assets or resources on constant efforts to replenish these very same assets or resources, as has been evidenced is already the case with even the most effective charitable organizations around today.
Economic and Financial Sustainability ensures that any outside donation that is granted to the foundation and even in-house funding, is used specifically for the purposes for which it has been donated or allocated.
Furthermore, at such a time as the corporate interests of the incorporated foundation have reached a certain level of maturity, these funds can then be utilized to fully subsidize most, if not all of the infrastructural and sociological needs of the people within a community.
Care needs to be taken however, that this economic benefit does not come at the cost of the productive and contributing members of society.
What Are Sociological Needs? The sociological needs of a community comprise the basic necessities to maintain an acceptable median quality of life. These include the access to safe and secure housing, basic and even advanced education, health and medical care and treatment and modern conveniences sufficient to allow for the provision of an adequate supply of food, clothing and other basic necessities to all individuals. The key is being able to maintain all of these functions without the creation of a dependency class and at the same time, without unduly punishing the productive and contributing members of society through excessive levels of taxation or other “penalties”.
Sociological or Social Sustainability is perhaps the least understood and most important of the individual aspects of systemic sustainability. For better or worse, humanity is at the top of the proverbial (and literal) food chain, and as such, is the only species on the planet capable of totally destroying or maintaining the planet itself … inclusive of any and all life on the planet.
Humans must become better stewards of the planet, but in return, there must also be a tangible and direct benefit to humanity in order for such a system to remain wholly sustainable. If there is no benefit to humanity, there is no incentive for humanity to become, much less to remain as better stewards of the planet.
Social Sustainability is mostly concerned with the basic necessities for all of humanity to enjoy a meaningful median quality of life. These generally include the basic necessities of life responsible for the ability to live and even to thrive in a safe and secure environment.
The major focus is on the ability of all people to have access to safe and secure housing, general and even extended medical care and treatment, access to basic utilities, access to sufficient levels and qualities of food, and the ability for everyone to obtain an education based on their individual aptitudes, skills and desires.
Social Sustainability however, is also concerned with the symbiotic and mutually beneficial relationships established between humanity and our economic and financial systems, in addition to the world in which we presently must all survive.
Enacting numerous laws and other regulations that severely inhibit the ability of the individual to enjoy a productive and meaningful life would not be very likely to be well received by the masses.
This would hold especially true if the corporate and government officials continued to live a life of luxury while at the same time asking the people to sacrifice and go without. Granted, this would never happen in America, but even to a lesser degree, what would provide any incentive for society as a whole to encourage a sustainable livelihood if it only means sacrifice and suffering?
There must be a tangible and direct benefit to the people that encourages the continuation of systemically sustainable choices in life if such programs are to be sustainable for the long-term.
Environmental Sustainability means establishing a more wholly symbiotic existence of mutual benefit for humanity, animal life, plant life and the overall global environment. Does mining really need to take place at all?
The answer, if the desire is to maintain a modern life, is unfortunately yes. That being said, these destructive mining practices can also be utilized to some advantage. Vast swathes of earth are being removed, and at the end of the day, little more than the planting of a few trees, very limited in nature will take place.
This is, in this case, a more limited version of restoration and reclamation, but it is certainly not sustainable by any stretch of the imagination.
Walt Disney utilized similar methods during the creation of Disney World in the swamps in and around Kissimmee, Florida. When the visitors walk around on the ground level of the Disney World theme park, they are generally walking one to two levels above the original ground level.
The underground realm of Disney may be relatively unknown to those outside of its employ, but it remains an engineering marvel from which many lessons can be learned.
The mines offer a unique opportunity to build vast underground areas for industry and production, often allowing for the capture of emissions to be much easier and more efficient in the process. Upon the completion of construction, the remaining dirt and fill can be utilized for fill on site to cover the completed structures and the surface replanted with large scale, man-made food forests that are every bit as natural … and substantially more efficient (from a human standpoint) than are the natural systems put in place by Mother Nature.
There is a company in Canada who is currently working on portable technologies that will remove literally all of the natural resources in areas that are being removed regardless. Rather than poisoning the local environment with leech ponds and extreme levels of arsenic, these machines would effectively remove any need for trucking anything other than products to or from the job site. The sand, which is all that is effectively retained after the removal of all of the natural resources, can then be used for fill on site.
Helioconverter technology is advancing to the stages where it is possible to reduce Municipal Waste storage to the level of nothing more than a statistical anomaly. With the exception of some regulated waste, organic matter, wastewater effluent and even Municipal Solid Waste or MSW can be processed, leaving minimal amounts of waste requiring storage in landfills, and at the same time producing viable and marketable products, many of which are in and of themselves, environmentally friendly and sustainable.
Among the most notable byproducts of this process are water that can be further distilled to make it potable, biochar and biofuels including natural gas and bio-diesel. Furthermore, this helioconverter process, when properly conducted, can be operated with minimal emissions as no incineration is required.
While there are far too many considerations to be brought up in any single article, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The fact remains that humans can continue to build and grow without totally destroying the environment in which we live.
There are already numerous solutions, but they threaten multi-billion dollar industries and the industry leaders … and more importantly, those who create the laws that decide who is and who is not allowed to build.
The two primary detriments for the implementation of Whole System Human Growth and Development comes from profit-driven corporations and politicians working to get reelected, and demonstrably in need of the very same corporate profits to drive their campaigns.
However, both of these institutions, the corporation and government, are directly relevant to the continuation of Sustainable Human Growth and Development, meaning that they will always be with us and need to be respected accordingly.
This should not by any stretch be viewed as an attack on corporations or government. However, given their position of influence and legislative capacity, it only takes one or two corrupt and deceptive leaders to lay waste to otherwise great accomplishments.
Both government and corporations will, for the foreseeable future at least, remain an integral part of society and the social fabric.
However, a single corporation making exactly the right donations to the right political reelection campaigns and effectively disbursing its lobbyist dollars, can effectively undo all of the good that an amazing startup could have accomplished had it been allowed to open up shop in the first place.
OMBUDSMAN CONCEPT. A citizen aggrieved by an official’s action or inaction should be able to state his grievance to an influential functionary empowered to investigate and to express conclusions. Blacks Law, Fourth Edition
Even given a very limited and seemingly minor abuse from a select few corporations and a handful of politicians, it should be evident that the people must therefore have a meaningful and enforceable voice in their own governance … or at least in the oversight thereof.
If there is any exceptionally difficult portion of this concept, it is any allowance for the people to have a direct, enforceable say in their own governance.
It is also imperative however, that the people, lacking knowledge in both operations of government and the management of multi-national corporations, not be able to impede upon the ability of these institutions to perform their work either.
These days, any mention of Jury Nullification, or even State Nullification, will render confused looks or worse still, calls of “crazy conspiracy theories” despite the vast amount of historical reference and precedent acknowledging both their existence and their purpose.
There was a day when not only the person was on trial, but the law was effectively on trial as well.
If the law was found to be arbitrarily enforceable or otherwise abusive, oppressive or contrary to the will and good of the people, not only was the person on trial to be released, but the law was to be struck from the books … or at least reviewed and revised.
The oversight within the proposed Incorporated Foundations rely on a weighted system of accountability, wherein much the same as Jury Duty, service is mandatory, but the results are enforceable and allow the people to take an active role in their own governance … and the accountability of the two areas where any abuse or even oppression is likely to originate … the government and the corporations.
The Ombudsman Program is the first opportunity for the citizens to review the laws, actions and even the acts of both government and corporations.
The Ombudsman Program will be funded through the Incorporated Foundation and as such, will not be beholden to government, the people or to the corporations. As a separate and independent body, it will employ professionals and scholars in the realms of government and management.
This board will be responsible for hearing the voices and opinions of professionals in all three arenas, government, corporate and the people, with weighted importance given to the responses and presentations of these groups.
The members of the Ombudsman Program will further be prevented from serving in any capacity in either government positions and/or in any decision making capacity with any corporate entity that conducts business within the local community.
Further checks and balances are also put in place to prevent any potential conflict of interest or undue influence by members of both the corporate entities and local government officials. Exceptions may be made in cases wherein these individuals own their own corporate interests, though the utilization of the Trust in the second tier of the Incorporated Foundation should allow for a blind trust to manage these operations during periods of service to the people.
Abuse and Solutions When there are egregious abuses or unchecked usurpation of power by the corporations and/or the governments, the people need to have an enforceable voice to hold those powers in check. However, at the same time, it is imperative that the people, lacking in some skills regarding corporate management and governmental oversight or even actual governance, must not be allowed to usurp or unduly interfere with the ability of the government or the corporation to remain an effective entity in its own right.
The second line of defense in order to minimize any risk of personal (and profitable) decisions from interfering with practical decision making, will be the presence of a Citizen Review Board. The Citizen Review Board will be comprised of an eclectic mix of legal professionals and document specialists.
Legal opinions from uninterested third parties will be written on individual cases, and the results all compiled into annals. The Citizen Review Board will be further tasked with hearing any final appeals of any group, inclusive of government, corporate or individual so as to ensure that every possible consideration has been given to the matter at hand.
In cases where there may be extenuating circumstances not previously considered, or for which the law was unprepared to deal with on an individual basis, a case may be returned to the Ombudsman Program for further review, with the attached legal opinions from the members of the Citizen Review Board, including why there should be exception made in any particular case.
The current means of education with everything standardized based solely on scholastic average standards must change if it is to allow for the teaching of children regarding sustainability and the continued growth and development of the species.
It is imperative to remember that all children will learn differently, but the most basic principles of scholastic education will be taught in the early years of educational development.
It must be realized that there are a great many children who do not possess these scholastic attributes, but who are quite adept when it comes to other technical or vocational courses.
Viable options need to be made available to all students, in order that each and every one will have the opportunity to study in areas where they will do well, and to have an opportunity to make a decent living through their education.
Among the first steps should be the reintroduction of these vocational and technical training into the school curricula, in addition to a return to Job Credits given for students that are working part time or even full time jobs for experience. Add in to this, the need to (re)introduce Critical Thinking and Problem Solving into the curricula and it would be an opening step in the right direction towards sustainability.