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How do we create a more sustainable society?

This week we asked the question: How do we create a more sustainable society?

Post Written by IBY1 student Marius Berg

About three hundred years ago, the biggest industrial leap in human history since the wheel began – the leap which began to utilize fossil fuels on a massive scale. Oil and coal made sure that industrial superpowers such as Great Britain rose up and became powerful through exploitation of nature. And whereas we did not realize it back then, that leap in human progress came at a cost – namely while our living standard and our GDP rose through the roof, the nature noticeably suffered. In short terms, we managed to burn up more fossil fuels in a few short hundred years than we have in the history of mankind combined until then. Which of course, begs the question – is such an exploitation of natural resources sustainable, and what effects does it have on the environment around us.

As far as for it being sustainable, one does not need a master’s degree to state that no – as one can quite easily conclude that all resources are finite, and fossil fuels will eventually run out. The bigger question is how well we will utilize the resources we have while we look for the next step in our way of utilizing energy. A more pressing question nowadays seems to be however, how our utilization of resources impacts the climate around us, as it is, at this current scale, more likely that we will make our environment unliveable due to “dirty” use of resources before we run out. Which brings us to the point – whose responsibility is it to actually control the way we influence the climate around us?

As of today, there are several different ways various governing bodies around the world choose to deal with the issue. Some impact “climate quotas”, forcing corporations and private citizens to pay for their use of resources which we know are harmful to the environment, whereas in other cases corporations themselves decide to “go green” due to increased pressure from the public. Examples of the former include Norway where for example airline companies would have to pay money to the government that would later be earmarked for climate control in the budget, whereas later would include some of the largest corporations in the world like Google, that choose to take steps to actively avoid damaging the environment. Both ways are of course not without their flaws, as corporations, and even governments are often ran by those who desire short-term profit rather than a long term solutions, thus making cutting corners a very tempting option. And even those corporations that appear extremely environmentally focused often prove to be less than so when exposed to closer scrutiny. One such example is of course Tesla Motors, whose cars were shown to pollute more than actual fossil-driven cars, if not during driving then during production process, and so on. While the studies that claim that are questionable, the point they raise is not. What makes an environmentally friendly business today is not obvious at all – not to consumer and in some cases not even to the business owner. In conclusion however, there are few other things to be said that while we might want to cut corners and go for quicker profits – it is harmful to us all in the long run – and I guess one could say that in regard of the climate and environment today, the world is the largest possible study of the prisoner’s dilemma game to date.

 


 

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