Archive for January 10th, 2011

Green Cherry-Picking: the Limits of Sustainability

Monday, January 10th, 2011

I wrote a little essay about the limitations of sustainability for the “people, planet, profit” – triple pundit, “year in review contest”. I am sorry to deviate with this economy essay again from “math, physics, art and design”. And frankly speaking – economy is not my most favorite subject, but like for nuclear energy, one has to acknowledge the fact that economy affects everyones normal daily lives in a quite drastic manner, so I think one has to think about it and put it into the general living context.

In the essay at triple pundit I tried to point out major economic obstacles for establishing “sustainability”. With sustainability I mean here the “common sense sustainability”, namely “being environmentally and socially friendly”. There are of course a lot of discussions about what sustainability encompasses, what it means to design etc. The essay was not concerned with this discussion but with the general question of how (common sense) sustainability fits into economy. In particular the essay takes a critical look at the notion of sustainability and profit, which is currently also a strongly discussed issue (see e.g. here). I found it quite a challenge to squeeze such a complex issue into such a small format, but I think it is possible and I figured that a small and concise (nontechnical, non-math) essay might eventually motivate people, who don’t like to delve too much into economic questions, to think about the topic.

The winner of the triple pundit “year in review contest” is Boyd Cohen with his essay 2010-The Year that Climate Capitalism Emerged to Save the Day. He believes that

enlightened capitalism focused on solving climate change at a profit, will be perhaps the most important tool to move the lever fast enough to thwart the worst of the climate crisis.

In his essay he listed his “top 10 climate capitalism stories coming out this calendar year that gives him hope”. Among others one story that gave him hope was that the electric car company “Better place comes to North America”:

Along with other announced North American efforts in Hawaii and Ontario, Better Place is poised to lead us away from our “addition to oil.”

The company “Better place” was just featured in the last randform post, where a quick calculation displays that electric cars may for certain electric energy mixes not reduce CO2 output but on the contrary increase CO2 output.

You can vote which article of the “Year in review contest” you like most, if you have a Twitter account.
My essay is after the click or at triple pundit.