OP-ED: Letting Nature Take Its Course? - Is sustainability still possible? Yes. Is it still probable? No. With bold action today, tomorrow, and in years to come, we could succeed in creating a sustainable and prosperous society.
But what does bold action actually mean?
First and foremost, we have to start living within Earth’s boundaries: stop changing the climate, wiping out biodiversity, disrupting the phosphorous and nitrogen cycles, and so on. And to do that we’ll need to live a one-planet lifestyle.
For some that’ll mean increases in consumption – as they step out of poverty – but for the two billion consumers on the planet, it will mean dramatic alterations in how they live. For example even if the average resident of Vancouver became a vegan, gave up flying and driving, lived in passive solar homes, and cut their purchases in half, they’d still be living 60 percent above a one-planet threshold, according to Ecological Footprint analysis.
Gone are the days where profit, growth, and stuff come first. We’ll need to shift corporate structures, the rules of marketing, and once again ground our economies in ecological realities. We’ll need to relocalise, and cultivate community interdependence again. We’ll need to reserve fossil fuels for their essential uses only – unsubstitutable ones like making drug inputs or high grade plastics for surgical use – and quickly move toward a renewable-energy based civilisation even if that means significant cuts in energy in the short-term (as we build our renewable energy capacity).