Global Sustainability

Comments from 9/21/18


Just a few comments about our site visits on 9/21/18. The bus was larger than I expected and communicating with everyone at the same time proved challenging with road noise, etc.

A few items:

Regarding the report that is due on 10/5/18, I am flexible on your approach to the report, but I want to emphasize the fact that you are submitting a college level report and you should make it as professional as possible. I want you to report on all of the stops that were made on our journeys along with technical details (Google if necessary). I also want a summary of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. I handed out some info on these goals on the bus, but there is more available online. I also would welcome your insights and ideas on what can be done to raise more awareness about sustainability on campus, in our community and/ or nationwide or worldwide.

The overarching issue boils down to world population which is currently at 7.5 billion. The earth has never experienced this before. I rely on you to do your part and you rely on me to do my part. By 2050, we are expected to have 9.4 billion people. We're all in this together. I'm pullin' for ya. The world population in 1950 was about 2.5 billion. By the year 2000, it was about 6 billion and we have increased by 25% since then. I am not proposing population control. I think the earth can handle 9.4 billion people if we plan ahead. Humans currently use about 10% of their brain capacity. I'm hoping we can all shoot for 11%. It begins with students like you who are thinking about these things and discussing it. Don't let up. When you study world history, there has never been a time with such a population explosion. Computers, medicine and automation have allowed humans to live longer and reproduce more.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1970. In 1969, the U.S. economy was booming. We all drove huge cars and enjoyed many luxuries. Nobody cared about fuel mileage because gas was cheap. We were also polluting like crazy. For instance, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught on fire because it was so loaded with chemicals. So some may say that the EPA has put the clamps on our economy and I would agree with that. But at the same time, we must put the clamps on our economy if we care about our children and grandchildren (and great-great-great-great-great-great... grandchildren). The world population in 1970 was only about 3.7 billion and maybe we could have continued with such lifestyles if the population had leveled off. But even that seems unlikely.

So humans have painted themselves into a corner. Our population has exploded because of computers, medicine and automation. This is a crucial moment in human history. In order to continue with these new technologies, we might do environmental damage or cultural damage which could cause a huge die off of humans. Nobody wants that on their shoulders. I can only speak for myself, but I want every human being to have the opportunity to live and be happy and productive if they so choose ("survive and thrive" as Bill Gates puts it). To take away regulations on the environment is a step in the wrong direction. World population continues to go up. The air belongs to all of us. The water belongs to all of us. Freedom to live our lives as we choose belongs to all of us. It shouldn't be allowable that someone wishing to make a profit could take those things away from us. This applies to the faceless villain that we all love to go after, but it also applies to you and me. Spread the word!

As you read through the Sustainable Development Goals, please notice that they are intended to help the world continue the move towards greater development at a pace that is reasonable (and sustainable). We want more than just a few generations to survive and thrive. We want it to continue for millions of years.

As an example, feel free to check out the following website. This conference took place a week ago in Mumbai, India and the U.S. Government was involved (along with the Indian and Afghan governments). The idea is to spark the economy of Afghanistan through increased trade with India. It is in the United States' best interest for Afghanistan to have a sustainable economy. And if the U.S. is pulling for Afghanistan, then is there anyone on earth that doesn't matter? We are all in this together and we rely on each other.

Passage to Prosperity

Imagine if someone living on earth 100 years from now had a better life because of something you said or did today. You don't have to be famous or rich to be successful. You don't have to write a book. Your everyday actions can have a tremendous impact. Go for it!