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Sustainability

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

At a meeting of Organizational Development professionals the other day, Michael Keller kindly led us through a process called Freelisting, using the term “Sustainability” as the seed term.   Learning about the process was fascinating, and the session brought up varied issues for people.   I was reminded how strongly I feel that (a) sustainability is an important concept to many people, (b) the anger many people feel towards the damage we are inflicting on our planet is misdirected and (c) how the divergent forces have the potential to lead to a better life for everyone.  

Periodically a large meteor strikes the Earth, the last being the Chicxulub Impact of 65 million years ago.  This impact is estimated to have released two hundred thousand times as much energy as all the nuclear weapons on the earth simultaneously exploding, and air pollution on a scale thousands of times greater than what we are producing.  The majority of the Earth’s species were wiped out.  

And these events pale in comparison to the creation of Earth and its ultimate destruction as the Sun ages and expands.   

So if you believe there is a higher power, or Creator or God, I suspect he/she does not believe we are destroying the Earth; rather it is our playground, our school, our home.  We can no more destroy the earth than we can destroy a thought.  The Earth does not need us as stewards; it will continue with or without us, regardless of what we do.  The most we could do is alter it in ways that are trivial compared to the transformations it has seen in the past and will see in the future.   

The Earth provides a microcosm in which we can learn to manage our resources and maximize our quality of life.  We have the option of making life quite miserable for ourselves, or improving it dramatically.  But it’s not the earth we’re saving against some demonic external force.   It’s not short-sighted politicians, or greedy capitalists or intolerant environmentalists that are these demons.  

If anger comes up when you think about the environment, are you aware of who you are really angry with?  Who are you really saving?   

What are you personally doing to improve the quality of life on this planet that does not blame others, but focuses on personal responsibility and action?    

References 

Carnegie Endownment for International Peace
http://www.ceip.org/files/nonprolif/numbers/default.asp
Total world stockpile of nuclear weapons: 5,000 Megatons  

University of Wisconsin – Stout, Department of Physics.
http://physics.uwstout.edu/geo/asteroid_local.htm
Energy released by meteor that killed the dinosaurs:  5×1024 J (or about the energy equivalent in 80 billion Hiroshima size (12.5 kiloton) bombs   

American Geophysical Union
http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/sharpton.html
More on the Chicxulub Impact  

John C. Lahr Consulting
http://jclahr.com/alaska/aeic/magnitude/energy.txt
Comparison of earthquake energy to nuclear explosion energy.J.C. Lahr, Revised 8/28/00   

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