Three Questions on Sustainable Technologies

Three questions that ought to be considered as our society decides which technologies are worth developing:

  1. Should we continue long-standing efforts to conquer and dominate nature rather than seek harmony with natural structures and processes?
  2. Should we actively promote a path of development in which technical means become the driving force that shapes social ends?
  3. It is wise to develop technologies likely to produce irreversible effects?

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Urban Growth

In 2015, according to UN data, there will be 36 megacities with than 8 million people. 2 will be in Africa, 1 in the middle-east, 22 in Asia, 6 in Latin-America and 2 in North-America.
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Footprint (ecological) (WWF)

he Ecological Footprint (EP) developed by the WWF indicates is a measure of the consumption of renewable natural resources by a human population. A population’s EF is the total area of productive land or sea required to produce all the crops, meat, seafood, wood and fibre it consumes, to sustain its energy consumption and to give space for its infrastructure. The EF can be compared with the biologically productive capacity of the land and sea available to that population. The Earth has about 11.4 billion hectares of productive land and sea space, after all unproductive areas of icecaps, desert and open ocean are discounted, or about a quarter of its surface area. Divided between the global population of six billion people, this total equates to just 1.9 hectares per person. This definition differs from Bill Rees’ who includes the area needed to assimilate human wastes
from: WWFin detailsee also: Footprint (ecological) XlnkS62E XlnkC18D8

The Sixth Extinction

Paleontologists have identified in the past history of earth five large extinction episodes. The latest that happened 75 millions years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs was provoked by the fall of a large meteor near the Yucatan peninsula. A new large scale extinction is happening right now. Scientists estimate that the extinction rate is 1000 times greater today than in pre-industrial era and that in 2050 3% of all known species will have disappeared. This is known as the sixth extinction. And for the first time it is provoked by a human cataclysm and not by a geological one.
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Climate Change Scenarios

The IPCC has imagined a series of future world scenarios to try predicting the effect of society choices on climate change. The global futures scenarios vary widely along different demographic, socio-economic, and technological dimensions (follow the scenario dimensions below). Scenarios range from economic collapse to virtually unlimited economic prosperity; from population collapse (caused by famine, disease, and/or war), to stabilization near current levels, to explosive population growth. Governance systems range from decentralized, semiautonomous communities with a form of direct democracy to global oligarchies. Some scenarios posit large improvements in income and social equality, within and among nations, while others foresee a widening of the income gap. Many scenarios envisage a future world that is high-tech, with varying rates of diffusion, but some envisage a world in which a crisis of some kind leads to a decline in technological development and even a loss of technological capability. Most scenarios are pessimistic with respect to resource availability; some are more optimistic, pointing to the ability of technology and demand changes to alleviate scarcity. Most scenarios also project increasing environmental degradation; more positively, many of these scenarios portray this trend reversing in the long-term, leading to an eventual improvement in environmental quality. The sustainable development scenarios, on the other hand, describe a future in which environmental quality improves throughout the scenario.
weblink: IPCC web sitefrom: IPCCin detailsee also: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – IPCC XlnkS628 XlnkC17DC

Fueling The Future

Assembled by the editing team of Andrew Heintzman and Evan Solomon, co-founders of Shift magazine, this coolly designed book reflects their respected talents: It is smart, hip and engaged. As such, this book gives readers a concise course on how the depletion of fossil fuels is about to change everyone’s future. The book is the first of a series intended to cover a wide range of topics such as water, globalization, or third world debt). Why energy? Kyoto, Middle East crisis, price of gas, health hazard of smog, North-America blackouts, there is plenty of evidence that energy is at the heart of the world’s most critical problems and concerns. Innovative solutions exist and a new generation of thinkers, inventors and engineers are already busy supplying the kind of ingenuity needed to develop and implement them. This book is a survey of these quests for solutions taking a non-critical, non-theoretical, consensus-building approach.
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SMS report- Year in Review 2003

The SMS action plan was established in response to issues identified during consultations with staff, members of the Association and other stakeholders. The issues were summarized as five strategies and twenty associated action items that are required to address weaknesses or gaps in the performance of APEGBC or its Members with respect to sustainability. The SMS report outlines the activities and achievement done during the Year 2003.
from: APEGBC – Association of Professional Engineers of BCdocument: SMS-Review03in detail XlnkS622 XlnkC1778

Master’s Program in The Natural Step

Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability September 2004 Blekinge Institute of Technology Karlskrona, Sweden A challenging and rewarding program with a rigorous whole systems view and a foundation of science led by Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt, founder of The Natural Step and Blue Planet Prize Laureate. Other instructors include: Margot Wallström, Environmental Commissioner, European Union Manfred Max-Neef, Ph.D., Author, “From the Outside Looking In: Experiences in Barefoot Economics”. For more information visit or view the attached brochure. More detailed information can be downloaded from the program website. “Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability” The Blekinge Institute of Technology (Blekinge Tekniska Högskola), located in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Karlskrona, on the southeast coast of Sweden, offers a unique international Master’s program. Leadership towards sustainability requires learning to select and structure information so that it is relevant for long term decision-making, planning and consensus building. Therefore, the program curriculum will revolve around an intellectually strict framework that is designed for this purpose and built on a total systems perspective and scientifically relevant world-view. The framework, known as The Natural Step Framework, is an internationally recognized methodology used to guide strategy towards sustainability in a variety of rhe framework, built on a logical five-level planning hierarchy, allows a systematic approach to: analysis of current practices, envisioning of solutions, finding strategic paths to a successful outcome (i.e. sustainable society), and selecting and designing cohesive and complementary tools such as management systems, life cycle assessments, all kinds of concepts such as Factor X and Footprinting, and development of indicators for sustainable development. In addition, this program will examine all kinds of approaches and technologies that will be needed for an attractive transition towards sustainability, including public policy and business strategies for sustainable development and best practice case studies from business, government and nongovernmental organizations. For more information follow the weblink or contact the email address on the sidebar.
weblink: Master’s Program in The Natural Stepfrom: The Natural Stepin detail XlnkS621 XlnkC17C2

New Directions in the Western Canadian Environmental Technology Industry

The Western Economic Diversification Environmental Technology Forum was held at the Wosk Centre for Dialogue in Vancouver BC on December 5, 2003. It brought together approximately 150 industry leaders, non governmental environmental organizations and leading government officials including the Honourable Paul Martin, Prime Minister of Canada. The goal of the event was to find ways to advance the Environmental Technology Industry in Western Canada. Follow the link below to Environmental Technology Directions to view a summary of key points from the forum.
document: Environmental Technology Directionsin detailsee also: Environmental Technologies Forum Media Coverage XlnkS61F