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Memories of the 28th Century

Unsustainable and Sustainable

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I saw a banner that said something about sustainability earlier today. That term has not become meaningful to me, so I wondered what it might be about in this particular case, but I haven’t found that yet. The general concept of sustainability appears to be important to some people, so I looked up what it’s supposed to mean. According to the EPA: “Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, which permits fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.”

That may be a good definition to some people, but to me it appears to have to potential to mean whatever someone wants it to mean. If that’s is supposed to mean that we are talking about a plan by which humans will be able to continue living on Earth “…in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations,” then there are some problems. The human population is several times the maximum with which we could have productive harmony. Humans haven’t lived in productive harmony for thousands of years; war and other inharmonious activities have been the general rule as long as there has been civilization and probably for a long time before that. And there’s the question of harmony with what?

Productive harmony only exists when it serves everyone who is purported to be harmonious. Greed is a more fundamental human urge. Greed is a direct outgrowth of the drive for self-preservation. Greed is the desire to obtain adequate supplies before any others.

Greed is the desire to save a super-adequacy of everything for times that may not be as bountiful. Using the EPA's definition for sustainability may show us the concept of greedy self-preservation from one point of view. Unfortunately, there are many too many people trying to sustain themselves. They may be living in productive harmony with their friends and or family, but they aren't living in productive harmony with the rest of the world. If we want to make the world sustainable for people, then we should start by getting rid of reasons for greed. That would entail ensuring that everyone would have adequate assets of all sorts, from food to housing to pleasure. Alas, there aren't enough material goods for everyone to have enough that they would not need more, so we will have to get rid of the excess.

I'm not advocating eliminating people. I think it would be more acceptable to send most people to other planets, and I don't mean uninhabitable planets in this solar system. We should send them to some of the new planets that have been detected. This will be similar to what the Goths did when their small country in Scandinavia became overpopulated in the third century CE. The greater part of the Goths was sent out of the country, and they were quite successful in conquering homes for themselves; although it took some years before they finally settled down. In a similar way we could send nine tenths of humans off Earth. Earth would become a sustainable environment for those of us who remained, and the ones who got to pioneer other planets could make those places sustainable, places where they could live in productive harmony.

The present sustainability movement seems to want to surrender to the unpleasant situations that are developing in Earthly economies. We should never surrender! We should move to more places. As some would say we would be spreading risk in case some catastrophe happens to Earth.