The Key to Sustainability is Physics, not Politics

17 January of 2011 by

glass The Key to Sustainability is Physics, not PoliticsA reader whose political sensibilities obviously do not parallel those in “The Story of Stuff” writes in:

As for “Stuff,” I don’t doubt that most of what [AnnieLeonard] says is true and it certainly is deplorable, but I missed hersolutions unless she proposes an anti-consuming society, which wouldn’twork here or anyplace else.

Thanks for your observations.

I see that you and she diverge on the issues.?But even as wide as the gap there may be, I’m sure a common meeting ground is the notion ofsustainability itself.?

Regardless of one’s politics and philosophies, the rightness orwrongness of imperialism and exploitation, or the obliteration of themiddle class, we’re running into the limitations imposed by nature andthe laws of physics themselves.?The rate at which the population isexpanding and resources are being depleted cannot last more than another few decades — regardless of what you or I think is morally orpolitically right.?

As for solutions, I can only paraphrase what Leonard said at the endof the video, i.e., that we consumers and suppliers of our stuff need to arrive at a new place of enlightenment in our approach to consumptionand sustainability.?

Is that likely??Am I optimistic that this has a happy ending for ourdescendents??To be honest, no — not unless there is some sort ofepiphany, perhaps based on a real cataclysm.?And sadly, that’s a realpossibility, as it seems to me that the chickens are coming home toroost, in terms of the effects that our unsustainable practices arehaving on the planet and the people who live on it. 

As I wrote the other day, most serious climate scientists say theeffects of global climate change are just starting to be obvious.?But if the heat wave in Russia last summer had centered over the breadbasketof America, it would have affected four times as much wheat, and caused a real mess in terms of the world food supply.

At a certain point in the not-too-distant future, I think it willobvious that we have an incredibly acute problem to solve. All I’mtrying to do in the meanwhile is to give us a “heads up.”

Thanks again for your comments.


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