I was preparing for my technical seminar on ‘Sustainable energy’, that is when i came across a very interesting thing. A question was posed in a video: ‘is sustainability fair?’. Now my first reaction was that what kinds of idiots post videos in youtube. The second thought that raised in my mind was that, the basic idea of sustainability is to provide a constant scenario which is quite rare to see in this fluctuating world.
Taking the example of petrol, now you might be thinking how petrol prices are fluctuating, to be frank its always exponentially high, but thats when we the people agitate against inflation and the government to end the aggression reduce the price by 50 paisa to a rupee and a half. Not much but enough to suppress the matter. thirdly if we don’t bring sustainability among the world either the world would be a heaven with people with compassion, morality and innocence (Which will not happen) or the world will go unorthodox. Only after following the video and facts I realized its a pretty good question raised.
The video starts with the question raised that ‘is sustainability fair?’, the person who posted the video was related to the oil department or maybe his area of interest. He says that most of the people related to the oil department must have watched Prof. Albert Bartlett‘s most celebrated lecture called “Arithmetic, Population, and Energy: sustainability 101”. Albert Bartlett is the professor of physics in the university of colorado who has gained his doctorate in the university of Harvard in 1951.
His lectureis based on the paper he published in 1969 called “ The forgotten fundamentals of Energy crisis”. He has been taking lecture since then & has taken it nearly 1600 times in a span of 36 years through out the world.He regards the word combination “sustainable growth” as an oxymoron, since even modest annual percentage population increases will inevitably equate to huge exponential growth over sustained periods of time. He therefore regards human overpopulation as “The Greatest Challenge” facing humanity. In the middle of the lecture is a very interesting example he lists out:
There are two tables, one table consists of all the good things like motherhood, peace, laws, medicine, public health, sanitation etc. The other table consists of all the bad things like abortion, famine, small family, murder, accidents, war etc. The paradox is that all the good things actually make overpopulation worse. At one point, the world will reach at 0% population growth. That is when the birth rate will equal the death rate. Now whether the people debate on the fact that they like 0% population growth or not, it is absolutely certain.
To address the issue either we will actively use the things from the ‘bad table‘ or through our inactiveness or indecision, nature will choose for us. He also used the example of peak oil crisis, where in one interview of BBC where a person David Strahan replies regarding the crisis that there is no sensible approach towards crisis. The interview was quite clear, he was directly pointing the fact that, every time when people realize that there is a shortage of oil coming they only look for alternative sources, consuming the commodity up till then.
This got me thinking that even i have been part of the whole alternative strategy plan.
The message is quite clear the path of sustainability requires regimentation. even though we might succeed in sustainability we would be sacrificing some of our own in the process. Coming back to Dr. Albert’s approach on overpopulation,there will certainly be a day when there will be neither be any population growth or decrease. Owing to the unawareness of family planning and advances in medical technology there would be high birth rate and less death rate, but nature or we humans would settle that with war, epidemic, calamity. Countries like China who have a punctilious approach towards family planning are very stern in controlling their population. Situations like this would certainly lead to a day as Dr. Albert said ‘0% population growth’. Firstly there would be a environment of turbulence among people to whether it is a beneficiary thing or not. In spite of the turmoil nature or even human nature wont change, there would be natural disasters, wars inflation, recessions joblessness, shortage, then we would look back & think whether our approach to bring sustainability was fair or not.
This question actually reminds of the fact that we are incapable of being sustainable ever in our life. Either we screw our life by making wrong decisions or fate make’s decisions for us. Because we are self sufficient today doesn’t mean that you will be tomorrow. The basic reason for this failure is the fact that we don’t have a sensible approach towards sustainability and the approaches we hold are what we consider as sensible. Energy crisis is a perfect example to explain, you realize today that there is a shortage of electricity, so what do you do? we go for an alternate source of electricity, thermal power for example. You realize that coal is going to be exhausted and then what do you do? again look for an alternative source, and up till then you would be using coal after all you have invested a lot in infrastructure. What we learn here is the fact that we always look for alternative sources rather than giving it up obviously you don’t need electricity to survive so why don’t you give it up un till you find a better harmless source, but what do we do we use the source un till we find the alternative and it is researched, tested certified and sponsored.
The basic key to sustainability is a sensible selfless approach, but there is never going to happen. How much ever i talk about the ‘sensibility‘ of sustainability we are never going to go to that way as that kind of life only suits a monk and of course I am not a monk. I need electricity to charge my laptop, and run my broadband cable which I use to connect to the world wide web and write the stories for this blog. So my fellow readers its something to think about, we can never go to a noble or ideal approach to sustainability, as far as it is concerned we all are mercenaries….