Saturday, November 28, 2009

How can I tell what is sustainable?

From my previous blog posts I ranted about what sustainability was and the cost of climate change. Now the question in the back of my mind is how can I tell what is sustainable in the world today. When deciding if something is sustainable or not, I think of the bigger picture, the future and the non-renewable natural resources. As non-renewable resources are used up, more energy is required to extract these resources, which in turn would create greater and greater release of emissions for less use of the resource being extracted. What I mean by this is all or most cars run on fossil fuels, which are non-renewable natural resources, one day they will eventually depleted and be gone forever. This is why we have to find a way to make a change now, before it’s too late.

The reading for this blog post from the book “Geography of Hope” by Chris turner talked about a small Danish Island of approximately 4,400 people are pretty much running on self sufficient energy. This means that they are utilizing all of the natural energy that is produced by the sun. This community is using energy sources such as wind power, wood chips, and solar straw. For this community to sufficiently run and come together as one in the beginning had to all have the same idea and feeling of having a community of self sufficient energy. These changes had to take place in order to create a paradigm shift in the energy production on a community scale. This evolution of how a small community can come together and make major changes for a stable environment represents a shift towards a more fully functioning system. Each and every individual had to strive and commitment in order to help eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, which in turn helps in cost savings. When you combined all of these factors together, it makes for a very stable environment.

When we talked about what sustainable in class a good example was brought up about a company which looks at the energy and materials that is need to satisfy the production of their products, while also taking into account the waste that they are producing to do so, and trying to find a way to reuse this waste that was created to help in the process of producing their products needed. This would be classified as a closed system because the company is trying to take care of the waste produced internally and reducing the need of bringing materials in from an outside source.

The most interesting part that I learnt in class was “Bio-mimicry”, which is the replication of ecosystems in the design of human infrastructure. What this means is the way society is building things today they take into account the animals in nature. An example of this was the speed train that was designed after examining and looking at a certain bird that can dive into water and not even make a splash. A speed/bullet train was formed and designed to the same degree of the birds beak to help lessen the wind resistance.
In order to justify what is sustainable and what isn’t sustainable, the environment that we live in as humans needs to be re-examined. What is sustainable in the world today might not be sustainable in the future. What is sustainable to one person probably is not sustainable to another, so as a community on a lower lever we all need to try to get together to make a difference and a more sustainable future for others.

ReferencesTurner, C. (2007). The geography of hope: a tour of the world we need. Toronto: Random House.

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