Sustainable is the new watch word. Last year it was security which came with a plethora of unintended consequences as in the limitation of freedom, the point of which was the security in the first place. Complicated issues, reduced to one word or simple phrases, are loaded with unintended consequences. In our ever more complex world we struggle to simplify our lives, and, in doing so, fail to connect the outcomes of our actions.
If we choose to power our car with a battery, we understand that we must power the battery from a renewable source such as wind, and kill the bats, or corn, and drive the price of food high enough to cause starvation. If we carefully plan, and carefully fund, we think that we can overcome the renewable energy challenge without harm to the environment by paying an extra cost to ensure the quality of life for all in the power supply chain.
And so we plug and go without thinking about the battery that lifted us from the bondage of hydrocarbons and increase atmospheric CO2. And the children of Africa die. For there another complex chain of life choices plays out and lead poisons the very earth.
“THIAROYE SUR MER, Senegal — First, it took the animals. Goats fell silent and refused to stand up. Chickens died in handfuls, then en masse. Street dogs disappeared. Then it took the children. Toddlers stopped talking and their legs gave out. Women birthed stillborns. Infants withered and died. Some said the houses were cursed. Others said the families were cursed. The mysterious illness killed 18 children in this town on the fringes of Dakar, Senegal’s capital, before anyone in the outside world noticed.” By HEIDI VOGT, Associated Press, Jan 3rd, 2009
Ultimately, sustainability means sacrifice, and not by someone else, but by me and you. We must decide to share, or we shall condemn our fellow men to live down stream in the shadows of ou environmental justice and down hill from our shining city dreams.