March 14, 2012
Recent years have seen a change in how we look at the environment. New thinking recognizes that it from most of the other important questions facing society. In the past, it was common sense that you can quality was a luxury for the pampered few when times were good and society was prospering.
However, threats to natural systems are also threats to human systems, and in many cases they are broad, complicated, and intractable. Anyone who thinks that climate change, for example, is a special interest doesn on agriculture, fisheries, water supplies, and economic prosperity. A Google search for pages, and sometimes it seems as if all of them are trying to come up with a new definition for the term. Most agree, though, that sustainability is about improving the quality of human life within the limitations of natural resources and ecosystems.
Think of the natural systems involved in the long journey our food takes from a seed in the ground to leftovers in the fridge. Or the path of a drop of water from the rain clouds to the bathtub. Or, that all of these processes are powered by energy that originates in places we will never see. Meeting basic human needs sustainably will be the challenge of our age.