Reflecting on the History of Sustainability

As elections are one of the only times governments and oppositions take notice of public issues, do you think the potential of Natural Sequence Farming should become an issue.

Over the last years billions of dollars have gone into so called 'fixes' for our problems and now more billions are being poured down possibly another deep hole.

Do you think NSF should be given adequate funds to either prove or disprove it's theories?

Let us know your thoughts here.

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Thomas Woodfin
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Reflecting on the History of Sustainability

Postby Thomas Woodfin » Wed May 19, 2010 7:17 pm

Achieving sustainability occurs through the process of sustainable development - discovering, adopting, implementing, establishing, and adjusting appropriate institutions, policies, strategies, and technologies to produce a just transition that moves society toward the envisioned idealized state of existence. Democracy is often viewed in the same way, as a process of working toward the ideal.:roll:

In applying the concepts and reflecting on the history of sustainability, what do we (as a people) want to sustain and in what ways can individuals work toward sustainability? Why was the first green revolution considered a failure in terms of the environment? Why do you think the green 2 revolution is a good idea?

"The earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed." Ghandi
This discussion is obviously pretty related to the one we had last week. What would we do to ensure that we come up with a sustainable development project?
We would like to emphasize on the importance of "good governance" for this discussion since it is one of the main factors that determines whether or not a project is sustainable. Among others, poor governance was one of the reasons why the first green revolution failed.
With the second green revolution however, we see how good governance (theoretically) plays a huge role in shifting the outcome to a more successful one. The four principles of good governance (accountability, participation and decentralization, predictability, and transparency) are pretty much characteristics that would allow a sustainable development project officer to be successful.
First, we thought that we have to make sure to note that we (as people) want to sustain our environment and our natural resources before anything else. Our country/world's economy sure is vital but we will not be able to use the term economy if we abuse what actually runs our economies all around the planet. Balancing our environmental and natural resources consumption would therefore be the first step towards achieving sustainability.
Once we determine the latter, we as individuals could work towards sustainability by exercising our right to participation. Again, participation is one of the four principles of good governance, so we need to realize that WE are the main stakeholders and beneficiaries in every nation's development efforts. By doing so, we eliminate the risks of corruption by those in power, we decrease the gaps between rich and poor which was one of the major issues faced by the GR.
Julia Butterflies' concept of making sustainability mainstream through individual action was quite interesting, while her actions are a bit extreme she set out to prove a point and did just that by living in the redwood tree she wanted to save…the key points that I want to make are that by her actions she caused questions to be asked by loggers and other community members, conversations were started and she saved the redwoods for a short time…importantly the thought process began, while we can't all save the world alone; we can start a revolution.

Sustainability, I am struggling with whether sustainable development truly means to sustain any and all human activities…while I believe that sustainability is truly necessary and there is a need for real change because resources are diminishing as nature and the environment are suffering, but how much can realistically be changed? Should we be trying to take a step back or a step forward? Is there a way to capitalize on globalization, but still sustain? Will globalizing third world countries hurt or help long term?
Balance among the determinants of sustainability will help transition towards more sustainable societies and cause collaboration. It almost seems like common sense; consumption of too much of anything isn't good…too much food can cause you to be fat, too much sun will cause cancer, etc. Consumption…reducing food consumption would help in the US in more than one regard…obesity…Eco-efficiency/economic efficiency…collaborate vs. compete…
In regards to production let's become leaders ourselves and implement ways to help unsustainable production.
"Sustainability represents an idealized societal state where people live long, dignified, comfortable, and productive lives, satisfying their needs in environmentally sound and socially just ways so as to not compromise the ability of other human beings from doing the same now and into the distant future. It is, in effect, an attempt to merge development and nature conservation efforts in a mutually beneficial way for the common good of the planet's present and future generations alike. In practice, achieving sustainability occurs through the process of sustainable development - discovering, adopting, implementing, establishing, and adjusting appropriate institutions, policies, strategies, and technologies to produce a just transition that moves society toward the envisioned idealized state of existence. Democracy is often viewed in the same way, as a process of working toward the ideal." (Kertmath, 2007)

"In the case of sustainability, the ideal consists of the simultaneous establishment of the two spatially and temporally essential and universal conditions - "environmental integrity" and "social justice" - that must be maintained over the long haul." (Kermath, 2007)
The first Green Revolution was considered a failure because of bad governance and rich farmers didn't give the poor farmers are chance to take advantage of the subsidized fuel and in turn caused an "increased income gap between the rich and poor" (p. 74)

The "Green 2 Revolution" is an agriculture development which is needed to achieve sustainable development in the world. What I like about the Green 2 Revolution is that the five policy elements are trying to promote sustainable development and make a significant impact on poverty reduction. For example the first policy "redistributes policy that favors the poor by providing them access to land and modern impact". (p. 74) hopefully, this can help the poor help themselves, which is the long term goal n all cases. "good governance includes predictability, fair, compensation pursuant to law will be required for a successful redistributive policy." (p. 74)
Increased investment in rain-fed agricultural areas in both Asia and Latin America. "as a one-time cattle owner in South America and understanding the need to be able to level the land and knowing that just because an area may get ample rain, doesn't mean the farm is successful. Many factors come in to play and need to be understood.

The woman beggar on page 77 that was able to take on a micro-loan is a prime example of "showing someone how to fish and you feed them for life" giving someone willing and wanting to learn can give them a chance for change and respect. It enables them to produce their own goods and earn a living. While, microfinance isn't the key way for change, as "microfinance can help the working poor, but not generally the poorest of the poor" (p. 77)
In response to the questions on the failures of GR, a few points are worth mentioning:
1- Despite its production success the GR favored the big agricultural corporations over the small farms leading to a huge disparity between rich and poor. The small farmers had no say in the way the GR worked (centralization and lack of participation) which is a sign of poor governance.

2- The use of pesticides and fertilizers works best on soils with a high degree of water control, so what happens to the small farms that cannot afford to pay for such technologies?

3- The GR was completely dependent on the new technologies, where resources were consumed at unreasonable levels compared to the GR2 which worked with nature rather than used nature's resources (issue of system of irrigation and drainage).

4- The increase in production was mostly done for rice and wheat, leaving regions where such production is not very popular, struggling to find a way out of their food crises like Africa.

5- Greed is what has harmed the GR in the past and will harm the GR2 sooner or later. We need to find a way to develop policies and programs that are fair to all stakeholders, without destroying our earth by unreasonably using up its resources.


References
Kermath, Brian M. 2007. "What is Sustainability? The Global Environmental Management Education Center (GEM) University of Wisconsin. Reviewed 3 Feb 10. http://www.uwsp.edu/cnr/gem/ambassador/ ... bility.htm
Rogers, Peter. P., Jalal, Kazi. F., & Boyd, John. A. (2008). Challenges of sustainable development. In An introduction to sustainable development (pp. 54-83). London, UK: Earthscan.
Thomas Woodfin

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