Statement of Concern: World Sustainability

This is what I believe will define globalization and World Sustainability over the coming two generations.

The habitation of the Earth by humanity cannot be sustained. Earth's natural systems have already begun to break down under the stress of human activity, a process that will intensify over the next two generations or so -- nobody quite knows when -- with catastrophic consequences, unevenly distributed among peoples and regions. While this calamity could be prevented and while many will strive to provide remedies, the very forces, ideologies, interests, and institutions that create this global crisis will obfuscate critical remedial discourse and will thwart the diverse efforts toward restoration of vital social, economic, political, and ecological systems. The ongoing efforts to forestall spiraling collapse will thus likely fail. The resulting trauma will be appalling and possibly irreversible.

An alternative path presents itself, based on a holistic notion of sustainability applied worldwide. World Sustainability requires that symbiosis and interdependence replace hierarchy, conflict, and avarice, among the hallmarks of established globalization. This alternative vision of World Sustainability amplifies a generative conception of cosmopolitan citizenship coalescing within an expanded civil society. While such a vision has discovered its roots, those in power will strive to extinguish its flourishing.

The detritus of social and ecological decay may provide nourishment to sustainability, but the poisons of distortion, barbarism, militarism, and plunder will also intensify. The outcome of this dialectic remains fluid but uncertain. The despoilers now have the upper hand.

This statement does not say that the path to World Sustainability is unknowable or unfeasible, but that it is actively being blocked. The path, therefore, can be unblocked.

This dire and broad statement should be examined, its implications explained, and, most significantly, the vision of an alternative defined. Of special concern here is how to interpret this statement in practice, defining a practical and strategic approach to sustainability worthy of the stakes and the challenge.


But where danger is, grows
The saving power also

Hölderin, Patmos

Consider this quote by Jacques Attalli, founding president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development: In the coming world order, there will be winners and there will be losers. The losers will outnumber the winners by an unimaginable factor (cited in Athanasiou, Divided Planet: The Ecology of Rich and Poor p. vi).

An alternative project builds on such principles as these:

  1. A crisis is defined as interactions of ecological, social, and economic dynamics. Sheer knowledge of the global crisis reverses the trends, evoking "the saving power."
  2. An array of disabling forces thwarts discourse and embeds the status quo but this can be reversed. See my notes on how to enable a just and sustainable world and some broad utopian speculation.
  3. A new order can be defined through cooperation among civil society, ecological economics, and appropriate public policy. The point of this web site is to demonstrate this approach to Strategic Sustainability.

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Wayne Hayes, Ph.D. | Initialized: 7/1/2007 | Last Update: 09/04/2013 | V. 2.5, Build #13