Right at the very start of this journey of sustainability learning and understanding I went looking for information and came across this amazing graphic … (original source is http://www.sustainableplant.com/2013/10/infographic-how-long-will-our-natural-resources-last/)
Do I need to mention, at this point, that the endless pack of TimTams in that iconic ad is a fiction?
If we use up all of the above resources, yes, some of them can be recovered and recycled, but in doing so there will be losses in both the original element and because of the amount of energy needed in the recovery process. We must question the need for the latest gadget/purchase, and start demanding longevity in the things we buy. With technology and hope, we may be able to recover the materials already used, with minimal residual pollution.
The reading I had to do for class this week was entitled Economics in a full world, by Herman E. Daly. It was published in Scientific America in 2005. It has helped me to start on my journey of understanding the economics side of things—definitely a space in which I am not particularly comfortable. The abstract of the paper simply states:
“The global economy is now so large that society can no longer safely pretend it operates within a limitless ecosystem. Developing an economy that can be sustained within the finite biosphere requires new ways of thinking.”
But probably my favourite snippet from the reading is:
“Because establishing and maintaining a sustainable economy entails an enormous change of mind and heart by economists, politicians and voters, one might well be tempted to declare that such a project would be impossible. But the alternative to a sustainable economy, an ever growing economy, is biophysically impossible. In choosing between tackling a political impossibility and a biophysical impossibility, I would judge the latter to be the more impossible and take my chances with the former.”