For Sustainable Seattle's 15th anniversary, Alan AtKisson, one of our founders, sang a song about exponential growth. Today one, tomorrow two, by 2011, 7 billion. Today, the Stranger ran an article about population growth: we are going to hit 7 billion people on this planet this year.
Sustainability at its core is about keeping humans on the planet. When we talk about meeting needs - of today and future generations- we are talking about the needs of humans. This is a human- centric view point, but necessary and understandable. A world without us may be a better place, but more likely much worse because if we do get to the place where the world is without us, it will probably be because of our own doing. This apocalyptic vision is the antitheses of sustainability.
And so a human centric reason for sustainability is necessary. We strive to take care of the planet because we want to take care of each other, and ourselves. With 7 billion people on this planet by the end of the year, what does this mean for us? What decisions should we make today so that the next billion and then the next can enjoy life, and do this in a way future generations can also enjoy life.
Population control seems an easy answer, but one we seem unable to implement. Reducing consumption seems evident, but our consumption continues to climb despite our intentions and actions, and asking those without to reduce or not increase their consumptions smacks of social injustice. Are we to grind this planet into a place where humans cannot survive?
We hope not. This hope drives us to do the work we do. In a sense, it is the only reason for continuing. To live to consume and die (who ever dies with the most toys wins) is no life at all. To live- and work - with hope that all - all 7 billion of us - will enjoy the beauty of nature, the expanse of the human spirit and the joy of becoming makes life worth living.