Filed under: J840 Week 5, Society + Media | Tags: sustainability, timber, Upper Peninsula
As I thought about it over and over, I realized that the word ‘sustainable’ doesn’t just stop with the environment. It applies equally well to personal, social and economic issues.
To me, sustainability is – living and acting with a long term view of ourselves, our society and our environment, sharing what we have with those who don’t, consuming less than what we can replenish, and being able to live with our moral and spiritual integrity intact.
On a recent trip to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan I saw timber yards everywhere, and trucks carrying huge loads of timber on virtually every highway.
I asked a local resident what their primary industry was and it was “timber-related manufacturing”. It made me wonder, in a larger sense – how long would this last? And how much was I contributing to this?
When viewed through the prism of my definition, I came to a sobering conclusion – this was completely unsustainable, from the forests and wildlife that are destroyed, to the fossil fuel used to transport the wood thousands of miles to their final destination, to the people who are displaced and whose way of life is destroyed. This may not be true in Michigan yet, but it is in many places on the planet.
The other conclusion that I came to is that my definition of sustainability is not easy to live with. I’ve created a lifestyle that requires me to earn a full time wage to sustain it. I only have so much more time and energy to give to those who aren’t as fortunate, I drive a car to work several times a week, I use electrical and electronic equipment and gadgets that draw power from “not so clean” coal plants, I work to increase society’s consumption, and I spend less time with my family than my parents did.
The dissonance is disturbing and depressing. I guess it’s time to go back to basics.
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