Is there any use in choosing to live more sustainably if you’re surrounded by an unsustainable system? There are those who argue there is little value in making efforts to trim your own ecological footprint. They lament, “It’s difficult to skinny up your life when you live within a system that needs structural change,” built to drive itself off a cliff. The GrowthBusters disagree. But who can you turn to for good advice on this? An astrophysicist, of course!
We’re joined in this episode by NYU professor Joshua Spodek. Yes, he has a degree in astrophysics, but these days he’s busy teaching and coaching leadership and entrepreneurship, doing TEDx talks, authoring best-selling books, blogging daily, and hosting his own podcast. It takes Joshua a year to accumulate a load of trash, and he hasn’t hopped on a plane in four years. So when it comes to both the joy, and the value, of individual planet-saving action, Josh is our guy.
Here is the complete email from Rob Boman in Oregon (we shared a portion of it on the podcast) Links promised are below this.
Hello, I just listened to podcast #35 (uncoupling nonsense). I could send a lot of stuff and I’m in the process of developing a website, but for now, you might find this interesting: I call it The Fifteen Criteria Points of Genuine, Meaningful Sustainability Thanks for your work, Robert Bolman
1) What people commonly refer to as “sustainability” is not truly sustainable. For example, people will refer to “sustainably harvested lumber”. Lumber may be harvested in a manner that is not destructive of forest ecosystems, but in order for lumber to be sustainably harvested, not only would the chainsaws and logging trucks need to be running on something other than fossil fuels, but the chainsaws and logging trucks would need to be MANUFACTURED using something other than fossil fuels. When you consider the amount of energy required to make a large metal object like a logging truck, it is clear that even Forest Stewardship Council certified lumber is far from sustainable
2) Genuine, meaningful sustainability is defined by a rigorous set of criteria including, but not limited to the use of nonrenewable resources and the impossibility of infinite growth on a finite planet.
3) It therefore follows that achieving genuine, meaningful sustainability is a dauntingly complex, remote, far-flung ideal. It will be VERY difficult to achieve.
4) As difficult as it may be, genuine, meaningful sustainability WILL be achieved because to do anything less is unsustainable. Whatever the human family fails to do voluntarily, we WILL do involuntarily. It is possible that we will become a sustainable, advanced, complex civilization. On the other hand, dust blowing on the wind is sustainable.
5) The longer we wait, the longer we procrastinate, delay and make excuses, the more wrenching and traumatic the transition to sustainability will be. We are squandering precious time and resources presently. We have used up approximately half of our one-time geological allotment of fossil fuels. The remaining half will be increasingly more expensive and energy intensive to extract. We should be feverishly using the remaining half to construct the post-fossil fuel infrastructure that we will need. This is especially the case when considering Climate Change. Fully preparing for life without fossil fuels could take decades. Also, it is not at all clear just HOW everything we do with fossil fuels can be accomplished with wind, solar and biofuels. The time to begin that transition is NOT when the fossil fuels are dwindling and the economy is collapsing.
6) Growth is unsustainable. Period. Within a closed, finite system like a petri dish, an island or a planet, growth of the physical environment cannot be continued. Thus, mainstream economics with its emphasis on perpetual growth is quite misguided