Sustainability and Environmentalism

Confession of a covering environmentalist by Paul Kings north blog post – sustainability is all about people and environmentalist is all about the environment. When we talk about sustainable buildings, sustainable materials is all about the people. Are the people more important or the planet?

James Lovelock: environmentalism has become a religion: Gaia theory is the concept of the planet as a single organism.

Here are a few events that have happened in the Environmental Timeline

  • 1798 – Thomas Robert Malthus publishes An Essay on the Principle of Population – he was worried about the population growing and growing, the lack of ability to grow more food etc for the amount of people on the earth. People should take responsibility for population growth, simplistic approach to modifying population.
  • 1931 – Grey Owl publishes “The Men from the last Frontier” was a Canadian environmentalist. Was from a first nature family (Canadian native Americans) became the first celebrity environmentalist. After he died the true story of Grey Owl emerged. He was from Brighton and left his family as the police were trying to get him for burning down a factory. He was very influential within conservation.
  • 1956 – Peak Oil first predicted is the state of the demand for oil is matched with our ability to produce that oil. The idea that it won’t last forever, it will run out.
  • 1962 – Rachel Carson published “Silent Spring”. She was a scientist which was essentially an attack on pesticide to aid crop production. An idea that when spring came there would be no birds singing because they would have eaten insects which have been contaminated by pesticides.
  • 1971 – Greenpeace founded in Vancouver, Canada 
  • 1972 – The Blue Marble Photograph was a photography taken by Apollo 17 which was the last moon shot. The photo was hugely influential, its was as if for the first time people had seen earth. and thought that it looked like a blue marble. The power of an image to change peoples view points and public opinion.
  • 1974 – CFC’s are first hypothesised to cause ozone thinning
  • 1984 – Bhopal disaster in Madhya Pradesh caused birth defects and is still being caused today, many people were killed
  • 1986 – Chernobyl the worlds worst explosion in the world, relatively recently the effects of the radiation has become less important. Change peoples perception of nuclear power.
  • 1994 – The first genetically modified crop released to the market this idea of mixing together things to create an organism ‘Frankenstein food’. Th argument is highly complex.

Gro Harlem Bruntland –  quote in the neo-futerism manifesto although it was altered to refer to cities.

What feature would you expect to find in a sustainable city?

  1. Energy – reducing carbon emissions and ensuring security of supply
  2. Making building more comftable, safer and cheaper to run
  3. Making streets fit for people
  4. Rethinking water
  5. Planning for shortage or excess water
  6. Moderating the heat island
  7. Making green spaces for work people and wildlife

How sustainable is your university? Cardiff Met is number 4 on the chart of sustainability in universities.

What is sustainable development and how can we make it happen?

  • Fostering peace
  • Fighting against global warming
  • Reducing North/South inequalities and fighting against poverty
  • Fighting against the marginalisation of women and girls
  • Sustainable development means having a different vision of the world

These are all about people not the environment which reinforced the idea of sustainability being about people.

Instead of of consuming things, treat everything as sacred.

consumed by consumerism.jpg
Erik Almas
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