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Sustainability - More important now than it has ever been

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Sustainability is a very abstract concept, it describes how our rate of current expansion compares to the rate of consumption of resources that are available to us presently, how this growth leads to technological revolution allowing us to acquire a greater volume of resources in the future and perhaps how technologies are developed that use alternate resources that are easier to harvest or are more abundant.

Sustainability is about harbouring a rate of expansion for as long as possible with the current technological breakthroughs that we have available until the next technological revolution changes things once again. This is the cycle that the human race has been living by since we crafted the first tools that allowed us to control our own lives and forge our own destiny. It is not hard to picture the kind of sustainability problems that our early ancestors may have had, what species of animal or plant we may have depleted forcing us to learn hard lessons.

The acceleration of the consumption of food and water as resources was caused by the growth in the number of humans that was driven by the creation of the tool! For a time this was solved by agriculture and farming techniques however, we have once again begun to see food and water sustainability become an issue.

What lesson does this teach us? That the cycle simply doesn't end. In order to continue to expand and maintain sustainability we need continued technological revolution, every cycle makes it easier for us to expand and so leads us into the next unknown issue that we once again have to triumph over. This in itself sounds like a self sustaining cycle until you take into account one factor, our rate of technological evolution is rapidly accelerating.

The cycle of technological revolution is becoming shorter and shorter. We went from the horse to the auto-mobile to the plane to space in shorter and shorter periods of time and the incremental change that these things brought to society grew with every cycle as this is an exponential process. Does this mean that sustainability is becoming easier to manage? Surely because our technology is advancing at such a rate sustainability shouldn't be an issue, plus we only have to survive at our current level of expansion for a shorter amount of time meaning that this can simply continue? Well, no. What this actually means is that as we expand at an accelerating rate along with our technology we have a shorter and shorter amount of time to solve our own sustainability problems. Issues that seriously threaten the survival of the human race appear faster and with less warning and require a faster and more widespread response. At what point does this acceleration become out of hand? The faster we go the harder we hit the wall and the larger our society is the harder it becomes to bring about the co-ordinated change we require to maintain a sustainable society.

All of this means that as a society we must be willing to adapt to and accept rapid resolutions to the problems we are facing though these resolutions may have a drastic impact on our lives. We may need to accept these changes quickly.

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