April 10, 2015

This is unsustainable

Demystifying Sustainability

My position is clear and I have said it several times before: the use of the term sustainability is misleading. From an economics point of view, the term should be "dynamic efficiency", keyed by Schumpeter long time ago. However an environmentalist term entered into our language and now we can't disentangle what it really means. That's why initially it is welcome a new book on this topic written by an environmentalist that beyond the concept it focuses on the solutions in these issues:
1 Worldview, ethics, values and ideologies
2 Redesigning ourselves to enable change
3 Population
4 Consumerism and the growth economy
5 Solving climate change
6 Appropriate technology: a renewable future
7 Reducing poverty and inequality
8 Education and communication
9 The politics of it all!
For each issue you'll find what you can do. Unfortunately, there are too many issues to be covered in only one book without any reference to incentives and dynamic efficiency or market design...

Finally it says
Can we demystify ‘sustainability’?
Yes we can, we can demystify ‘sustainability’. The key step is to accept reality, accept the gravity of our predicament, roll back denial, and rapidly put in place the solution frameworks covered above.
Sounds a little bit naïf again. Nature and social behaviour are more complex to be solved this way. A simple recipe is not enough. A better transdisciplinary understanding is needed. I'll continue to refrain from the use of term sustainability.

PS. What is really unsustainaible-irrrrrrresistible is precisely what happened yesterday in our Parliament on this topic.  An horrendous example of an outdated political style. Citizens are demanding to tackle real problems, not more political shows. The future of population health policy starts with consensus. Again, my position is clear. If you don't understand exactly what I mean, have a look at this excellent book by Neil Postman: