Right from the start of this urban sustainability class we read an excerpt of a book projecting that within 100 years, we will reach the limit of human growth on this planet. This means that if we continue our trend of increasing population while depleting all our resources, there could be no future for children born within our lifetimes. We are responsible to change this, and yet society does not feel too strong of an urge to do so. I believe that the most critical challenge to overcome when it comes to sustainability is just awareness of the urgency of this issue and initiative to take the necessary steps to reverse this trend.
Recently, the Paris talks have ended in a worldwide agreement to reduce our carbon footprint. Countries have set goals for themselves to eventually become carbon neutral by the end of this century. This is a huge deal, considering that it is hard for nearly 200 countries agree on anything. The governments of the globe have recognized the need for change, and it is a step in the right direction to get the general public to follow suit. The government may be able to set strict quotas on reducing pollution, but without the participation of the people, efforts for becoming carbon neutral will never succeed.
In this graph to the left from the same book referenced above, researchers mapped out the relation of people’s concerns relative to space and time. It shows that most people are concerned with issues that have to do with their family over the next week. I admit that these are the bulk of my own worries day-to-day. There are very few people on the upper right corner of the graph who think more large scale, concerning themselves with issues of a global perspective, over more than their own lifetime. More people need to focus on the future of the planet, and how to secure a sustainable environment for generations to come. If this shift in perspective does not happen soon, we could doom our planet in less than 100 years.
Donella Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, Jörgen Randers, and William W. Behrens III. “Perspectives, Problems, and Models” from The Limits to Growth. https://us130urbansustainability.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/3_perspectives-problems-and-models_meadows-et-al.pdf
Somanader, Tanya. “Follow Along: A Global Agreement to Act on Climate.” The White House. The White House, 14 Dec. 2015. Web. 29 Jan. 2016.