Tuesday, 23 November 2010

'Pragmatic Sustainability' - a summary

‘Pragmatic Sustainability’ is written by influential people from a range of fields including science, philosophy and business. Moore has edited each chapter with conclusions on different approaches and ideas behind sustainability. Various perspectives and methodologies are explained, forming an overall conclusion that the answer to having a sustainable future means a combination of changes necessary but most importantly changing peoples’ behaviours. Jamison states ‘the challenge for the future is proper balance between personal engagement and specialized expertise between sustainable communities and sustainable growth’ (Jamison, pg79).  In the growth of the industrial world and population we have to shift all attitudes to reduce carbon consumption and use renewable energies’ etc. The questions posed are how we do this.

An vital concept repeated at various points suggests an interdisciplinary approach is fundamental to change peoples behaviours, politics and working practices which reflect on how we consume and treat the environment. This is the basis of the main argument suggesting if we do this, a sustainable future can exist and by looking at economies, society, industries, regulations, building and technologies a well-rounded view is established. Each aspect is studied thoroughly to produce this view.

Behavioural change comes economy and social politics but these are the places most reluctant to change. Thompson describes sustainability as a ‘social movement’ for ‘democracy and social justice’ (Thompson, pg27) proving the necessity for change by describing it as ‘justice’ for the people. People are categorized into three parties: the government, cooperation’s and citizens. Hess believes cooperation’s would not make this change towards sustainable practicing unless ‘sever social and environmental disruptions were to endanger the survival of elites’ (Hess, pg252). This questions how citizens can make a change if cooperation’s are failing to do so. An example where this has succeeded was in Hudson Valley River (Winner, pg85) where ordinary citizens fought and won against engineers to cancel the building a huge coal-burning factory in aid of the environment. This is a clear example of how community attitudes can overthrow industries obsession with growth and money (Moore, pg 83) to change the future. This idea is emphasized at various points.

Aswell as attitude, the other vital point Moore stresses is about economy. This greed for prophet is why companies are reluctant to operate in a more sustainable manner. If economy was reorganized to incorporate sustainable practice affordably and with profit seeking benefits would it would be used? If not Hess argues that if the market continues ‘regulation is needed’ (Hess, pg237), which again comes back to people and policies. If attitudes changed, green practices would become more popular, thus making them cheaper.

Although greening of industries is beginning to occur, ‘growth of production and consumption overwhelms the forward steps of industrial greening’ (Hess, pg236) summing up Moores point that change is needed now. The view from many fields shows an interdisciplinary approach is fundamental  and offers new thoughts and ideas on how we could develop ways of living for a more sustainable future.

Moore, S. A., ed., (2010), ‘Pragmatic Sustainability: Theoretical and Practical Tools’, Oxon: Routledge.

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