When you think about the future and the well being of your family, you are probably concerned like most of us about pollution and climate change and the need for us all to be more sustainable consumers. Like most of us you are probably also trying to cope with the challenges of daily life and find precious time to be with the people you care about and do the things that you enjoy.
The Sustainability Challenge
We live in a world that is increasingly interconnected, interdependent and driven by the priorities of global organisations, as they compete for market share. Sustainability is one of the many challenges confronting society, which needs a global response. However, many people feel ignored by those in power and lack direction or purpose. Some try to make a difference through activities such as recycling. A few seek answers from an ideology or by following a leader, who promises often simplistic solutions.
Many people have given in to apathy or opted out of mainstream society, believing that all of those who seek power are motivated by self interest. Individuals often ignore the many huge problems that confront the world, having decided they can do nothing to improve the situation. They prefer instead to focus upon their immediate concerns, even though global forces will eventually impact upon the life of every human being on the planet.
As individuals we might be left feeling concerned about the future, but unsure how we can make any real difference. Even the most enlightened of us must consume resources to survive, but we live in a world where the need for us to do so sustainably is widely accepted. Millions of people in emerging economies want to enjoy the quality of life taken for granted in Europe and America, increasing the need for sustainable solutions.
Life on Earth
People concerned about environmental issues often talk about the need to preserve life on planet Earth. However, life in many forms has endured through conditions far harsher than anything we are likely able to inflict upon this world. The building blocks of life can even survive in space. If we unleashed the worst that pollution and conflict can deliver, wiping out ourselves and most other complex life on Earth, simple organisms could survive and new species eventually evolve.
Millions of years from the planet we live on might again be filled with a complex variety of life and a thriving ecosystem. The Earth will survive, but unless we develop and apply greater self awareness and understanding of the planet that we share with others, the human race and all that we have achieved might not. Even those people motivated only by self interest should recognise that building a more sustainable society is essential for their own long term prosperity and survival, in addition to their offspring and our species.
The Need For Change
Having accepted the challenge that we are confronted by, the difficulty is how do we build a society that is both sustainable and meets the wants and needs of the billions of people living on Earth. There are no simple solutions, but we must consider the many issues that need to be addressed. In a sense the modern world is the product of design on a grand scale, resulting from decisions made over generations, regarding our physical world and how we chose to live within it.
Rather than looking to apportion blame or feel a sense of smug superiority over those we consider less enlightened, we must accept that every human being on this planet we share is a consumer of resources. Each of us has a responsibility to ask ourselves what we can do to make a positive difference. We cannot effect change on our own, but as a species we can learn to work together in a way that will benefit current and future generations.
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