The links that you may find in the following piece do not work at this time. There is a massive re-organization due to block censorship! Otherwise, it is part of our proletarian duty to reverse the damage to nature and curtail the activities of those who ruin it for individual profit. It will take a revolution on the part of all of us to make this very necessary change. We can start now individually and remember to persevere in making the proletarian revolution!
A sustainable environment is one where the individual parts work together as an integrated whole that functions within the limits of that environment. All the parts thereof function individually but each one is balanced by all the rest so that one part does not dominate to the exclusion and detriment of all the others. A sustainable environment allows for all the species to interact in a collective balance even though the individuals therein exist in a condition far from equilibrium. The collective situation under natural development never drifts far from balance. A sustainable environment must live within the limits of the Earth. This is how the natural environment works where a strange attractor regulates each and every part in predator-prey cycles so that the whole remains healthy. If one expands, other factors hold it in check and keep the environment and all species healthy. This works in a complex feed back loop. Humanity used to function within that context until through technology, agriculture, surplus production and attitude they strayed from the balance and put at risk the whole, including themselves. Humanity reached a point of self superiority and alienation from nature that turned the balance of the environment on its head. With gathering momentum we exceeded the carrying capacity of the whole and put the whole ecosystem and ourselves at risk. For the longest time, we wouldn't even acknowledge this truth and some still don't. Now the whole unbalanced approach humanity has taken is making itself ever more apparent and it is accelerating. As a result, some have taken steps to achieve a sustainable environment, but so far, it is far from what is actually required to rebalance the ecosystem. One would think that with our intelligence, that we should not only recognize the problem as it develops, but also deal with it to correct it.
Among the first were people like Rachel Carson who wrote "Silent Spring" a book that popularized the emerging environmental crisis. Jacques Cousteau also brought environmental questions to our attention, particularly concerning the oceans of the planet. Soon after, the Greenpeace movement emerged and fought virtually alone, taking extreme risks in order to bring a host of environmental crises to our collective attention. Greenpeace with its ship Rainbow Warrior has intervened to bring attention to over fishing, the crises caused by whaling and shark fin hunting. They have intervened to stop the dumping of nuclear waste into the oceans and even attempted to stop nuclear detonations in the Aleutian Island chain of Alaska. One detonation, a five megaton underground blast almost on the shores of the Soviet Union caused grave international concern and an earthquake. They attempted to stop the French from testing a nuclear device in the Pacific and had their ship sunk by French divers. Greenpeace failed to stop the nuclear arms race of the day. But Greenpeace has succeeded in other areas and has a world wide support. Some of their actions have been nothing short of heroic despite condemnation heaped upon them from many sources. The whole of the battle has been and is the attempt to bring our attention to live within the carrying capacity of the Earth and work in a sustainable environment.
Our technological ways have had and continue to have a collective and escalating influence on the Earth. At current levels, it has become obvious that it is unsustainable as air borne pollution has now exceeded the carrying capacity of the atmosphere. What is even worse is that the US alone is building or planning to build 150 new coal fired electrical generating plants. China, which now has a persistent brown cloud problem, is building or planning to build more coal powered generators. Plastic debris has collected in the Pacific Ocean in five huge floating piles of everything plastic from bags to traffic cones. We have obviously exceeded the carrying capacity of the oceans as a garbage dump. This is further evidenced in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of sea birds, sea turtles, seals, dolphins and fish. Some of these plastic contaminated fish are eaten by us and our own bodies become reservoirs of plastic derived chemicals, radioactive waste and carcinogenic agents. On land, we are running out of "land fills", as if land needed filling with our electronic planned obsolescence technology, food waste, plastic, furniture, glass, metal, pesticides, paints, chemicals, sewage and even radioactive waste. As we have no more land needing to be filled, we are now considering burning the refuse along with coal and oil and using the atmosphere as the new waste dump.
Our use of trees for newsprint, cardboard and toiletry items has to change. For every tree used, one must be planted. Use of annual crops as a substitute crop to create paper and fiber is a must and one of the best is hemp. Another is the water hyacinth, which is considered a nuisance plant in India. However, water hyacinth also happens to be a plant that can filter clean water to remove all kinds of waste from sewage to heavy metal contaminants. What is put in by way of heavily polluted water in one end with water hyacinth filtration results in drinkable clean water at the other end and more biomass for feed and paper in the water hyacinths. Most of our domestic paper use has to change including an intensification of recycling. Even our eating habits have to change if we are to be sustainable. The N. American and European eating lifestyle is unsustainable considering that to eat meat requires ten times the resources that a vegetarian requires. A meat eating diet even forces some vegetarians to go hungry. For every item of food eaten, one is destroyed because it is outdated or has lost some of its freshness from sitting around too long. There is no market due to lack of sales and incoming food from agribusiness has to have room in the stores, so food not sold is dumped. There is an extreme amount of waste in restaurants that ends up in the landfill creating methane; a greenhouse gas. Meanwhile, people also go hungry.
To get back into balance and achieve sustainability is going to be a struggling heave to and hard tack against heavy economic winds. We will have to give up addiction to plastic and fossil fuels just for starters. We will have to learn to recycle absolutely everything. What we are recycling now is far from enough. We need to use renewable energy such as wind power, piezoelectric generation, geothermal power, solar energy and the like. All of these are proven and have working examples in use around the planet. Any revolution has to begin at the grass roots and this is also true of moving toward a sustainable environment. There will have to be wholesale changes individually and across the planet. We cannot justify mass consumption in the industrialized developed nations while most people in the third world have to do without clean running water, basic medical services, nutritious food, sanitary conditions and electricity. As things are now, they are very lopsided. We in the rich nations must reduce, reuse, and recycle while basic living standards are allowed for the poorest. It is all about balance.
To achieve a sustainable environment, we are going to have to emulate nature as best as we can, as ultimately, we are also part of nature. Depending on how you interpret it, humanity is either the most successful species in recent epochs, or an unmitigated disaster on the face of nature that is mediating the sixth great extinction event. Regarding this, we are now required to make great changes. What follows are things we can do individually and then what we can do collectively. This is by no means a complete list of what we can do. There is likely a lot more, but this is a start. Living within the Earth's means is absolutely essential for our survival.
Individually we can;
• Stop using plastic bags and choose reusable ones. This alone will go far in protecting the environment, especially in toxin creating landfills and huge problems in the oceans. As it is, a massive clean up is required.
• Buy bulk and avoid packaging as much as possible. Recycle packaging each time you go to the store for refills.
• Use low electrical power consuming lighting and products. Although there are disputes about florescent bulbs and their toxicity, there are other emerging technologies like light emitting diodes to consider. These consume the least amount of power for the greatest output of light.
• Turn off lights not in immediate use. It is surprising how much is wasted at home and at work. Lights in rooms not in use should be turned off and turned on only if you're in them.
• Encourage children to be "green". Set an example and children will follow, especially if the activity is fun for all involved. People who love to work in nature easily transmit this to their children as children are naturally drawn to the outdoors.
• Chose greener washing alternatives like cold water washes and line drying, It takes a lot of energy to heat water for washing, just to let the hot water and the dirt go down the drain. Thus, using cold water is more eco-friendly. In the days before dryers, wash was hung to dry in the sunlight. If you have a yard, this is definitely the way to go. Dryers use a lot of energy.
• e on the watch out for “Green wash”. These are products that tout their green qualities, but they are green in name only, promoted by slick advertising. It is estimated that of everything that calls itself green, only about two percent are actually green. The rest is outright advertising lies. You must ask questions and probe for the truth. Do not just accept what ads say!
• Bottled water is very much the fashion, but this is being discouraged. Much of the bottled water is shipped in from distant locations creating a large carbon footprint for water of often questionable value and purity. It would be better to install a filtration unit at home to filter metals, bacteria and chlorine out of your drinking water. This localizes the production and cuts down on transport and carbon production that ends up in the atmosphere. If you like to carry some, there exists a wide selection of reusable water bottles that climbers, hikers and campers use.
• Become a vegan. As it takes 1/10th the arable land to sustain a vegan as opposed to someone who relies on meat and dairy products, this is by far the more sustainable option. If a nation like India can live as vegetarians, so can we!
• Get behind family planning and zero population growth. China has had a policy of zero population growth for many years. This is something not enforced in our part of the world, but a voluntary policy will help in sustainability.
• Use cloth recyclable diapers and avoid disposable ones. Disposable diapers add a huge amount of waste to landfills, much of which, except the plastic, is recyclable. There was a day where there were only cloth diapers and a pick up and clean service.
• If you can compost, do so and recycle all food scraps. Those who have a back yard to grow vegetables, can compost food waste and scraps and reduce their dependency on chemical fertilizers.
• Consider getting and using a composting toilet. Composting toilets are great if you have land and a garden. If not, the compost can be offered to someone who does for part of the garden produce.
• All yard waste like grass clippings and leaves can be composted, recycled and even used as mulch to help reduce water evaporation losses.
• Don't waste food. If you can’t eat it; share with the poor at home and abroad. Get into using leftovers in dishes and don’t produce more than can be eaten by the family in a day. It is better to under eat than to over eat.
• If you have a yard, grow a vegetable garden and plant fruit trees. This is even better than eating local because you grow it and you know what’s going into the food you grow. It is best to aim for a completely organic approach.
• Buy local produce as much as possible, supporting local farming and cutting down on emissions. Avoid food coming from half way around the world. If you like exotic stuff, try growing some locally. If you do grow exotics, control the spread of seeds into the local eco-system to avoid a future Kudzu type eco-catastrophe.
• Shower like a sailor, wet yourself in the shower, shut off the water, soap up and shampoo completely and then turn on the water to rinse quickly.
• Upgrade insulation for the home and double glaze all windows, especially for those who live in cold long winter zones. Consider adding insulation to the exterior walls as well as the attic.
• Turn down the thermostat and put on more sweaters. If you have an oil or gas furnace, this is crucial. The recommended setting is 68 degrees F. or 20 degrees C.
• Bike or walk instead of driving. Leave the car at home, especially for those short trips. This will cut down on parking competition as well, which causes a lot of wasted gas driving and looking for parking spots.
• Don't uproot plants for flowers, use potted flowers, even if they are annuals. If you do use cut flowers, recycle them as compost when they are finished. If they have gone to seed, you may want to harvest the seeds for next year.
• Support and encourage companies that are ethical, that give back fairly and boycott polluters by refusing to buy their products. This act may encourage them to clean up.
• Grow your own spices for kitchen use. They can be grown in a south facing window in the kitchen if possible, so that they are ready and at hand. Basil, Oregano and others work well indoors. Fresh is best and there is no polluting transporting from halfway around the world.
• Eat in season: forget winter strawberries unless you can grow them at home in wintertime yourself. Alternately, harvest in season and dry surpluses with a solar food dryer for later use. If you live near the country, berries such a blackberries, blueberries and others grow in abundance in the wild and are free.
• Use recycled paper or hemp based paper and avoid subscribing to newspapers. Get news at the library, online or on TV.
• Consider local wind power, piezoelectric, solar and micro turbine electric power. Countries should consider geothermal power.
• Use organic food. They have fewer pesticides and herbicides, growth hormones, anti-biotics, preservatives and no GMOs. However, the whole planet is now so polluted; even the best food is now tainted. We are going to have to ramp up our efforts.
Collectively we should pursue;
• Abolish planned obsolescence starting with the concept of boycotting all products that are engineered to fall apart right at the expiry of the warrantee. Planned obsolescence can come in redesigns too by way of fashion or various upgrades. If we demand new features, it means that the older technology will end up in the landfill faster.
• Bringing an end to warfare is an idea whose time is severely overdue. War is one of the most destructive influences on the environment. We can refer to the front during WWI, the atomic destruction and testing of WWII and thereafter, all the chemicals and explosives dumped on various nations around the planet and see the incalculable damage wrecked on innocent people and the environment then and up to now.
• Geothermal energy sources are a great way to produce energy from the waste heat of the Earth itself. There are some countries that already rely heavy on geothermal power and we should follow there example, especially where it is easily extracted.
• Piezoelectric energy is electricity that is produced from the compression of materials. An experiment in Britain has piezoelectric sensors embedded under a freeway and these produce enough electricity to power about 40,000 homes. Other candidates for such generation are dance floors, so that the dancers make the power to power the band and light show and then some.
• Wind power is an obvious answer that we are now using, but the concept needs revision and improvement so that it is constant and reliable. Wind towers that create a heat differential to create an air flow is one idea that has been experimented upon with success.
• Solar energy has seen a recent development with paint on solar cells that create electrical energy. It is now possible to derive power from infra red energy sources. These devices can work at night, on cloudy days and even from waste heat from buildings, cars and our own bodies.
• Mass rapid transit the much criticized mode of getting about is something that we really need to pursue. It eliminates the aggravation of finding a parking spot and saves on adding carbon. All we need to do is take a hard look at the situation and make the necessary changes that will make it the more attractive alternative than revving up the car again.
• Creating better designed buildings will help to conserve energy and in the better recycling of energy waste. Ideas such as having a roof garden to shade the building in summer and keeping it warm in winter not only reduce carbon, but look great as well. Even now, there are buildings with trees growing on the root. The idea of a vertical farm is another building concept being developed.
• Any process using coal, oil and nuclear energy sources should be phased out in favor of renewable ones. Currently there is move to build more coal fired generators. Some 150 are in the building and planning stages in the US and China is also building more. In China there is a severe local global dimming crisis. Pollution made in China wafts over the Pacific and affects agriculture in North America. Clearly this has to stop world wide. If we expect China to stop using coal, we should too.
• There exists a process to extract carbon from the atmosphere and fix it in a stable manner. Further the product can be used in building, such as in concrete. Building these plants to remove excess carbon and lock it away as calcium carbonate should be an immediate priority.
If we do these things, we will be helping to create a sustainable environment and not going where we are now in exceeding the carrying capacity of the planet. But in order to do this, we are going to have to make serious changes individually and collectively.