Sustainability

This page, and all subsequent posts tagged ‘sustainability’ will reflect on the tensions between happiness and living within ecological limits that I observe in myself, and in the people, cultures and landscapes I encounter along the way.

In some ways I wonder if this page shouldn’t be called ‘maximising happiness, and enabling evolution  within ecological constraints’ rather than ‘sustainability’. I think it is critical to understand that the point of all this ‘sustainability’ and  ‘environmental’ stuff is not simply about minimising negative environmental impacts. Instead, these topics are primarily about satisfying our ‘Fundamental Human Needs’ or maximising the opportunities for our collective evolution. And when I say ‘our’ I am referring to all humans on the planet, and all the other beings that comprise this vast, inter-connected system we are part of.

I have posted a short introduction to Sustainable Development here.

Carbon and climate

Climate change is not synonymous with sustainability, but it is a really big deal. One of the reasons I chose to make this trip overland/sea is to minimise my contribution to accelerated climate change. The links and further info below explain more about this. And, for those who don’t want to read it all, the headlines from my analysis and experience of minimising my carbon ‘footprint’ are:

  1. The change in my behaviour as a result of committing to no flights this last year has definitely reduced my carbon footprint – from 20 tonnes last year down to an anticipated 7 (April to April).
  2. Even using quite inflated estimates for the carbon footprint of this trip, and it taking a long time, overland still comes out in front of flying. e.g. 2.8 tonnes all the way to Perth from London (via Sydney), compared to 6.8 tonnes if I flew.
  3. When I consider the relative positive impact on my life and other’s, and divide that by the overall negative impacts, time etc. in some sort of a hypothetical equation, I think this mode of traveling makes a greater contribution to my and other’s wellbeing than flying!
  4. Doing the calculations really helps. Firstly, it had helped me to have a target. Secondly, it has already helped me make choices informed by facts rather than pure ideology. e.g. Ferrys are really polluting, and there was a thought that flying may be a good option from Singapore to Sydney, but the numbers show a bus/train/ferry combination still comes out better, and sailing or catching a lift on a freighter would be the best.

Below are links to the various posts documenting my low-carbon commitment, calculations and journey.

Am I trying to influence you? Yes…

There are many ways of thinking about cultural and behavioural change, and the sorts of things you have to do if you want to effectively influence other people. How to best do this is a widely-studied subject (from dating tips, to communication courses to how to degrees in marketing), and a big deal in the sustainability field. So these posts pay some attention to what I know may influence you to change your behaviour if you are reading it. Some of you may actually be reading this and wanting to influence me, and I welcome feedback, corrections or anything you want to add.

Ideally these posts would provide all of the below if I really wanted to do a good job of influencing you  to change your behaviour too (but that would be promising a lot):

  • ‘Facts’ form a 3rd-person, objective perspective

  • Information in a variety of formats (numbers, pictures, movies) and from a variety of sources (‘experts’, leaders, peers and popular media)

  • Some emotionally-engaging detail, to perhaps invoke emotions like excitement, fear and curiousity.

  • Some numerical analysis and details of assumptions and technical aspects.

  • Responses to frequently-asked questions and common myths / misconceptions.

  • 1st-person subjective account of my experience of implementing the changes, so you can get a feel for what it is like.

  • Tools to help you play, work and think through the issues and what it means for you.

  • The information base for you and me, or you and others, for having conversations about this stuff (inter-subjective, 2nd-person perspective)

  • Some links and connections that create a sense of a ‘community’ of people who are doing this, so you and I realise that we are not alone.

  • Ideas about specific, concrete ‘next actions’ you or we can take.

If you think I really have done this issue a dis-service, or not addressed what you are the key points, please email me with your suggested changes and improvements.

And, I look forward to writing more about sustainability, beyond carbon!

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7 responses to “Sustainability

  1. Pingback: Carbon footprint methods, assumptions and tools « Andrew’s three-month descent from the UK to Australia

  2. Pingback: Carbon footprint for this trip, and this year « Andrew’s three-month descent from the UK to Australia

  3. Pingback: CRAGs « Andrew’s three-month descent from the UK to Australia

  4. Pingback: My carbon footprint last year « Andrew’s three-month descent from the UK to Australia

  5. Pingback: Is flying really that bad? « Andrew’s three-month descent from the UK to Australia

  6. Pingback: Why reduce your carbon emissions? « Andrew’s three-month descent from the UK to Australia

  7. Pingback: Descending and Flowingmu « Andrew’s three-month descent from the UK to Australia

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